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

Apr 21 2017

The things we promise by J. C. Burke

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Allen and Unwin, 2017. ISBN 9781760290405
(Age: 13+) Highly recommended. AIDS, Australian history, 1990's, Prejudice. The focus of Gemma's life in year eleven is the formal at the end of the year. She and her friends, Linda and Andrea talk about it incessantly, Gemma relying on her brother's return to do their hair and make up. He is a stylist in New York, where he has lived for five years with his boyfriend, Saul.
But tensions are mounting in her household. Mum is distraught when Billy's first boyfriend, Matt dies, she is evasive when Gemma talks about her brother's return, and Gemma is cross when the swatches for the material for her dress are sent by Billy's friend, Claude.
It is the early 1990's and the setting is recreated by Burke with absolute clarity. No one could be unaware of the climate in Australia when AIDS first became known. Community attitudes are clearly delineated, posters of male-female love appear, accepting no other possibility, gay men are called a range of offensive names, some like Gemma's father simply leave the family, avoiding the issue altogether.
Gemma finds a photo of Saul and Billy at a party in New York, in her mother's drawer. Billy has used his talents to make Saul look like a zebra, and the line on the back alludes to something being well covered. The reader is alerted, and eventually Gemma finds that Saul has AIDS.
A fascinating set of decisions need to be made as she gets on with her life. Who to tell? She is hesitant to tell her best friend, Andrea because of her homophobic attitudes, and with her knowledge, other people's ignorances seem to stand out. Through her growing knowledge of the disease, the reader is also given information with which they can judge the reactions of the school and the community in which Gemma lives. In following Billy's decline and visits to the hospital, Gemma is in no doubt about the seriousness of the illness, and the reader is privy to the range of prejudices and reactions of other people when confronted by the disease. In the background, Gemma is becoming closer to Ralph, a boy she likes and his involvement with her lands him in some trouble. The year rolls to an end and the formal is close at hand but other more important events take hold of the family and their friends.
For information about AIDS in Australia today,  an article about the decline in the number of HIV/AIDS cases. HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence and the number of deaths is insignificant, whereas in the 1990's about 1000 people died each year.
This is a beautifully told gripping story with some hard issues to follow. Burke makes the times ring with clarity.
Fran Knight



More Reviews

Apr 21 2017

How the queen found the perfect cup of tea by Kate Hosford

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Ill. by Gabi Swiatkowska. Carolrhoda books, 2017. ISBN 9781467739047
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Humour, Tea, Adventure, Quest. When the queen sips her morning cup of tea, she finds something is amiss. It simply does not have the taste she is looking for. Her servant James is puzzled:...
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Apr 21 2017

The grand genius summer of Henry Hoobler by Lisa Shanahan

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Allen and Unwin, 2017. ISBN 9781760293017
(Age: Yrs 2-4) Recommended. Henry Hoobler is a boy with worries. He is travelling with his family on a camping holiday but would rather stay at home with Nonna and not have to think about all the things that could go wrong or have to face the...
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Apr 21 2017

The secret place by M.L. Simmons

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Little Steps Publishing, 2016. ISBN 9781925117998
(Age: 9+) Recommended. Themes: Mystery Adventure; Farm life; Bushfire. This charming story of the life of a young lad in rural Australia begins with the reporting of an unusual event after a bushfire, with a mystery involving a discovered...
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Apr 21 2017

Millie loves ants by Jackie French

cover imageIll. by Sue deGennaro. Angus and Robertson, 2017. ISBN 9781460751787
(Age: 4-8) Recommended. Millie Loves Ants by Jackie French and Sue deGennaro tells the engaging story of young Amelia as she observes her friend Millie the echidna and her quest for ants. Hidden in the garden bed,...
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Apr 20 2017

Came back to show you I could fly by Robin Klein

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Introduced by Simmone Howell. Text Classics. Text Publishing, 2017. ISBN 9781925498318. First published Penguin Viking 1989
(Age: Middle school students) Recommended. Drug addiction. Friendship. Family breakdown. Eleven year old Seymour is spending his summer holidays with his mother's...
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Apr 20 2017

Buchanan Bandits by Marcus Emerson

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Ill. by David Lee. Diary of a 6th grade ninja bk 6. Allen & Unwin, 2017. ISBN 9781760295608
(Age: 9-11) Buchanan Bandits is the sixth humorous novel focussing on Chase Cooper and his secret band of school ninjas. Each novel explores a week in his wild school life with...
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Apr 20 2017

Just like Molly by Pippa Dowling

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Ill. by Sunshine. Empowering Resources, 2016. ISBN 9780994501073
At some stage in their young lives, children have an imaginary friend - one who likes to do the things that you like, eat the things you eat, be scared of the things you are scared of and share good times with you. ...
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Apr 20 2017

The magic word by Mac Barnett

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Ill. by Elise Parsley. Balzer and Bray, 2016. ISBN 9780062354846
Paxton C. Heymeyer seems to have forgotten his manners, so when he asks his babysitter for a cookie she asks him for the magic word. But instead of saying, "Can I have a cookie, please", Paxton C. Heymeyer shouts "Can I...
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Apr 17 2017

Cric Croc series by Anthony W. Buirchell

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Ill. by Nikki Ball. Vivid Publishing, 2016.
Cric Croc. ISBN 9781925442595
Cric Croc and the bedraggled pony. ISBN 9780995424302
In the first of what is proposed to be a series that spans the Australian continent,...
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Apr 17 2017

You choose... Flip me by George Ivanoff

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Random House, 2017
Alien invaders from beyond the stars/Night of the creepy carnival ISBN 9780143784029
Super sports spectacular/Trapped in the games grid. ISBN 9780143784036
Remember the frustration of finishing a book in a series that you have...
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Apr 17 2017

Worm loves Worm by J.J. Austrian

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Ill. by Mike Curato. Balzer & Bray, 2016. ISBN 9780062386335
Worm loves Worm. So they decide to get married. It shouldn't be a problem but suddenly all their minibeast friends chip in. "You'll need someone to marry you. That's how it's always been done." You'll need a best man,...
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Apr 17 2017

Big picture book of long ago by Sam Baer

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Ill. by Wesley Robins. Usborne, 2016. ISBN 9781409598725
Take a city, an English city, and then take a journey back through time and discover how people have lived and worked there over the centuries right back to its Stone Age camp beginnings.
Interspersed with double-page spreads...
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Apr 17 2017

Three little monkeys by Quentin Blake

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Ill. by Emma Chichester Clark. HarperCollins, 2016. ISBN 9780008164478
Hilda Snibbs is not like other people. She doesn't have a dog or a cat or even a goldfish - she has three little monkeys. Their names are Tim and Sam and Lulu and they are very lively. Every time she leaves the house...
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Apr 13 2017

Flying through clouds by Michelle Morgan

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Michelle Morgan, 2017. ISBN 9780995386501
(Age: 10+) Recommended. Depression (1930). Australian history. Aviation. Reprising the familiar territory of her first novel, Racing the moon, Morgan weaves a tale about Joe,...
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Apr 13 2017

The CSIRO low-carb diet by Grant Brinkworth and Pennie Taylor

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Macmillan Australia, 2017. ISBN 9781925481488
(Age 14 - Adult) Recommended. Following other successful books from the CSIRO, The CSIRO low-carb diet is sure to be popular with people who are seeking advice about a more healthy lifestyle and diet. Based on research from around the...
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Apr 13 2017

The leaky story by Devon Sillert

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Ill. by Anil Tortop. EK Books, 2017. ISBN 9781925335392
The Blossburn family are engaged in their usual activities - parents engrossed in a television program while J.J. is playing with toys on the mat. No one is taking any notice of the books on the shelves, least of all the one that is...
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Apr 12 2017

Lift-the-flap questions and answers about Science by Katie Daynes

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Lift-the-flap questions and answers about Science by Katie Daynes
Ill. by Marie-Eve Tremblay. Usborne, 2016. ISBN 9781409598985
From the time they are born children are innately curious and as soon as they are able to articulate the words, they ask questions so they can make the...
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Apr 12 2017

Goodnight world by Debi Gliori

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Bloomsbury Children's, 2016. ISBN 9781408872734
"Bedtime and time to say goodnight to the world.
Goodnight planet, goodnight world,
Peaceful clouds around Earth curled."
In a gentle, lullaby-like rhyme the little one is getting ready for bed and wishing everything a...
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Apr 11 2017

William Wenton and the luridium thief by Bobbie Peers

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William Wenton bk 1. Walker, 2017. ISBN 9781406371703
(Age: 9+) Highly recommended. Norwegian film director Bobbie Peers' debut children's novel is a written like a cinematic thriller packed with action, intrigue and drama. His creative attention to detail is outstanding, with the...
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Apr 11 2017

Brothers from a different mother by Philip Gwynne

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Ill. by Marjorie Crosby-Fairall. Penguin Viking, 2017. ISBN 9780670078486
(Age: 5+) Highly recommended. Difference. Pigs. Tapir. Understanding. Tapir and Pig see that they are similar, both in colouring and size, shape and interests. But when they swim together they see that they are...
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Apr 11 2017

Clearing the pack by Michael Panckridge

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The Legend series. Ford St Publishing, 2017. ISBN 9781925272642
The Legend of sport competition has started for another year and students score points for skill based sessions, their knowledge of the sport and their game skills. The winner of the Legend of football and netball...
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Apr 11 2017

Maisy goes to the bookshop by Lucy Cousins

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Maisy's first experiences series. Walker Books, 2017. ISBN 9781406369847
(Age: 3+) Recommended. Bookshops. Books. In the series, Maisy's first experiences, which includes stories of Maisy as she goes camping, or visits the library or goes to a hospital, the wonderful Maisy...
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Apr 06 2017

My name is Victoria by Lucy Worsley

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Bloomsbury, 2017. ISBN 9781408882016
(Age: 10-14) Highly recommended. Historical fiction. Miss V. Conroy is a very good girl. She is quiet, well-mannered and wants to obey her father Sir John Conroy, the comptroller of the household of the widowed Duchess of Kent. When her father takes...
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Apr 06 2017

I love you by Xiao Mao

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Ill. by Tang Yun. New Frontier Publishing 2017. ISBN 9781925059762
(Age: 3-6) Recommended. Written by award winning Chinese author Xiao Mao, I love you sees Little Badger's teacher sharing her favourite words with the class. At the end of the day, Little Badger goes home to...
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Apr 06 2017

Amazing Australians in their flying machines by Prue and Kelly Mason

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Ill. by Tom Jellett. Walker Books, 2017. ISBN 9781922244635
(Age: 8+) Recommended. Flight. Adventure. Invention. This engrossing hard cover book details the role of ten early Australian aviators who through their efforts helped change the face of Australia's aviation industry, bringing...
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Apr 06 2017

Happily ever after: Beauty and the Beast by Alex Field

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Ill. by Helen Magisson. New Frontier Publishing, 2017. ISBN 9781925059809
This is a great version of a traditional story and describes a young girl overcoming her fear to protect her father. The realisation of what is inside is far more important than what the outside looks like....
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Apr 04 2017

Defy the stars by Claudia Gray

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Hot Key Books, 2017. ISBN 9781471406362
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. Science Fiction. Artificial intelligence. Robots. Space travel. Relativity. Pollution. Earth is dying, and there is a war between it and Genesis, one of the colony planets. The people of Genesis have closed down...
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Apr 04 2017

The red book by Beck and Matt Stanton

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ABC Books, 2017. ISBN 9780733334856
(Age: 5-6) Recommended. 'For the grown-ups: Okay, Batwig. We have a challenge for you. It's your job to convince the nearest kid that everything in this book is actually red. And we mean everything. It will not be easy! They'll try to persuade you that...
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Apr 04 2017

The awesome book of rap, rhyme and putrid poetry by Andy Jones

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Ill. by Jules Faber. HarperCollins Australia, 2017. ISBN 9781733335562
(Age: Mid primary) At 260 pages long, this is a wonderful porridge of putrid humour for readers in mid primary. They will find really sick jokes, disgusting verse and outrageous limericks while reading the five...
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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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Jan 30 2017

Literature to support the Australian curriculum: HISTORY. Foundation - Year 10 by Fran Knight and Pat Pledger

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LinksPlus, revised 2016. ISBN 9781876678265
Highly recommended - for educators. Subjects: History curriculum; Fiction; Annotated bibliography. Fran Knight and Pat Pledger are committed to providing educators and librarians with excellent reference tools that support the Australian...
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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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