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 04 2015

The truth according to us by Annie Barrows

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Bantam, 2015. ISBN 9780857987945
(Age: Adult - Senior secondary) Highly recommended. Layla Beck, the daughter of a US senator, is sent to the small town of Macedonia, West Virginia as part of the Federal Writers' Project to author a history of the town. It is 1938 and Layla is convinced that she will be bored by small town life. Used to an idle life of luxury, Layla stays in a house with the Romeyn family, and she is the spark that brings to light many of the secrets that the Romeyn's harbour. Meanwhile the curiosity of 12 year old Willa Romeyn about her charismatic father, Felix and what his business entails, and her thoughts about why her aunt Jottie remains unmarried, will also transform the Romeyn's world.
Co-author of the very popular, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Annie Barrows does not disappoint in this almost 500 page story that is very difficult to put down. Right from the first chapter, the reader is drawn into the complex life of the Romeyns and the life of Layla Beck who gradually discovers that she does like researching and writing. The occasional use of letters from Layla to her friends gives an intimate and often funny look into the life of the townspeople and allows the reader to get to know Layla as well.
Each of the central characters is deftly drawn with skilled detail and even the minor townspeople come alive in this sweeping tale of southern life. There are eccentrics and wonderful people all portrayed with a deft hand. The reader is swept along by the lives of the people in Macedonia, especially hoping that Layla will not be taken in by the charm of Felix, all the time wondering just what he does for a living, as Willa carefully follows him to try and find out more about him. There is a mystery surrounding the burning of the family mill and the death of Vause, whom Jottie had loved, and this thread keeps the reader in suspense until the final chapters.
This is a funny, quirky book with endearing characters that would allow for much discussion about the Depression, the real Federal Writers' Project, the secrets that are kept in families and the power of familial love.
Pat Pledger

More Reviews

Sep 04 2015

My Big Fat Zombie Fish - Jurassic Carp by Mo O'Hara

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Macmillan Children's Books, 2015. ISBN 9781447263838
(Age: 9+) Highly recommended. I love that there are so many books to encourage reluctant boys to read. My Big Fat Zombie Fish is one of them. In this novel, readers will find two short stories about Tom and his pet zombie fish,...
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Sep 04 2015

Bonny grows her feathers and learns to fly by Angela Robertson-Buchanan

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Wild Dog Books, 2015. ISBN 9781742033693
(Ages 4+) Highly recommended. This is the story of Bonny, a rainbow lorikeet who fell out of her nest, was rescued and cared for and then released back into the wild. Award-winning photographer Angela Robertson-Buchanan has put together this...
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Sep 04 2015

Lulu Bell series by Belinda Murrell

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Ill. by Serena Geddes. Random House, 2015
Lulu Bell and the Pirate Fun. ISBN 9780857985545
Lulu Bell and the Magical Garden. ISBN 9780857985644
There was great excitement in my house, excitement I'd been anticipating and waiting for. Because at last Miss Just-9...
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Sep 04 2015

Rafe's Aussie Adventure by James Patterson and Martin Chatterton

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Random House, 2015. ISBN 9780857986016
(Age: Yr 4+) Rafe Katchadorian is back in another hilarious adventure as he negotiates his way through middle school, those tricky years when boys are more than children but not yet men. As well as dealing with emerging independence, puberty, and...
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Sep 03 2015

Remarkably Rexy by Craig Smith

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Allen & Unwin, 2015. ISBN 9781760113940
(Age: 5+) Highly recommended, Cats, Community, Personality. From the cover kids will identify the personality traits of this seriously self absorbed cat, Rex. He is posturing, proud and very aware of his audience, as he waits for the children...
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Sep 03 2015

Paris Nocturne by Patrick Modiano, trans. by Phoebe Western-Evans

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Text, 2015,ISBN 9781925240108
Little Jewel by Patrick Modiano, trans. by Phoebe Western-Evans
Text, 2015, ISBN 9781925240115
(Age: Senior secondary) Patrick Modiano is the winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize for literature. In the reviewed titles his themes of memory and loss are...
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Sep 03 2015

A Lottie Lipton Adventure : The Secrets of the Stone by Dan Metcalf

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A & C Black, 2015. ISBN 9781472911841
(Age: 7-10) Recommended. Lottie is a brave, young would-be detective who happens to live in the British Museum with her Uncle Bert, the Curator of Egyptology.
Lottie has a strong sense of adventure, which comes in handy when there is a late...
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Sep 02 2015

Dear Dad, I want to be just like you by Ed Allen

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Ill. by Simon Williams. Scholastic Australia, 2015. ISBN 9781760153496
(Age 5-9) Recommended. Father's Day. Humour. This is a picture book that has letters to open and flaps to lift and it would be an ideal present for children to share with their father especially on Father's Day....
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Sep 02 2015

Dino-Daddy by Mark Sperring

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Ill. by Sam Lloyd. Bloomsbury, 2015. ISBN 9781408849705
If you're looking for a rollicking good read that is lots of fun and has wonderful illustrations, then Dino-Daddy should be high on the list. The third in a series which includes Dino-Mummy and Dino-Baby,...
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Sep 02 2015

The fire sermon by Francesca Haig

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Harper Collins, 2015. ISBN 9780007563067
(Age: 13+) In a post-apocalyptic world set hundreds of years in the future, all births are twins, one an Omega always with a deformity, limbless or worse, and an Alpha, a normal desirable twin. When one twin dies the other will also die no matter...
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Sep 02 2015

Eve and the Fiery Phoenix by Jess Black

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Keeper of the Crystals series. New Frontier Publishing, 2015. ISBN 9781925059441
(Age: 7+) Themes: Fantasy adventure; Environmental concerns. This is the second in the Keeper of the Crystals series and the young central characters Eve and Oscar are again magically...
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Sep 01 2015

The boy, the bear, the baron and the bard and other dramatic tales by Gregory Rogers

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Allen and Unwin, 2015. ISBN 9781760112394
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Historical, Elizabethan times, Shakespeare, Medieval knights, Wordless picture book. Gregory Roger's award winning picture books, The boy, the bear, the baron and the bard, Midsummer knight and The...
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Sep 01 2015

Seahorse by Bruce Pascoe

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Magabala Books, 2015. ISBN 9781921248931
(Age: 8+) Recommended. Themes: Fishing, Family Life, Boating, Mysteries, Adventure. Jack's family, dad Vince, mum Carla and sister Tania love to spend time camping, fishing, diving and exploring Seahorse Bay. Carla is content to sit on the rocks,...
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Sep 01 2015

The good girls by Sara Shepard

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Hot Key Books, 2015. ISBN 9781471404320
(Age: 16+) Themes: Murder-mystery genre; Relationships; Trust; Teen-age drama; Bullying. A coterie of 'perfect girls', while in a Film Studies class in a Washington suburban High School, create a list of a number of people who they believe deserve...
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Aug 31 2015

The marriage of opposites by Alice Hoffman

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Scribner, 2015. ISBN 9781471112102
(Age: Adult/young adult) Recommended. Alice Hoffman is a highly successful author with more than thirty works in her manifest. In The Marriage of Opposites Hoffman paints her perspective on the family life of Rachel Pomie and her son Camille...
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Aug 31 2015

Fearless with my Dad by Cori Brooke

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New Frontier Publishing, 2015. ISBN 9781925059403
(Age: 6+) Highly recommended. Fearless with my Dad is a beautiful picture book, following a young boy and his dad. Together they are pirates, flying like an eagle and travelling to the moon. The underlying theme is a child can be...
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Aug 31 2015

Something's amiss at the Zoo by Jen Breach

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Lothian Children's Books, 2015. ISBN 9780734416223
The zookeepers at this crazy, mixed-up zoo really don't seem to know what's best for their animals. Who ever heard of Kitty Litter for Catfish?
Could a shark be happy in a tiny jungle pool? Does a spider monkey really want to eat...
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Aug 31 2015

Birdy by Jess Vallance

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Hot Key Books, 2015. ISBN 9781471404665
(Ages: 14+) Some strong language. 'Frances Bird has been a loner for so long that she's given up on ever finding real friendship. But then she's asked to show a new girl around school, and she begins to think her luck could finally be changing....
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Aug 31 2015

The Rapunzel dilemma by Jennifer Kloester

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Penguin Books, 2014. ISBN 9780143571087
(Ages: 12+) Modern interpretations of familiar fairy tales can be fascinating to read. I recall those of Robin McKinley and Gail Carson Levine - cleverly told with a touch of something magical, which stays with the reader long after the story has...
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Aug 28 2015

Suri's wall by Lucy Estela

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Ill. by Matt Ottley. Penguin, 2015. ISBN 9780670077755
(Age: 7+) Recommended. Resilience. Determination. Children in war. Belief. Measuring her height against the wall Suri is surprised to find that she can now see over the top. The children come to her eager to see what she sees,...
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Aug 28 2015

Harvey Drew and the Junk Skunks by Cas Lester

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Hot Key Books, 2015. ISBN 9781471403347
(Age: 9+) Highly recommended. In the first few chapters of Harvey Drew and the Junk Skunks, there is an explosion of toxic slime, a hatching alien egg and the ship's cook/doctor announces they are all going to die! Just another crazy day...
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Aug 28 2015

Three moments of an explosion. Stories by China Mieville

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Macmillan, 2015. ISBN 9780230770188
(Ages:15 +) Obviously well known for his forays into speculative fiction, China Mieville has written a fascinating and challenging collection of short stories, beginning with the brief and startling tale, which gives the collection its title. Each...
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Aug 28 2015

Wesley Booth Super Sleuth by Adam Cece

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Ill. by Michel Streich. Omnibus Books for Scholastic; 2015. ISBN 9781742991016
(Age: 8-12) Highly recommended. Themes: Mystery; Friendship; Family and family breakdown. Adam Cece, a local South Australian author has written a delightful tale for young readers aged 8-12. Wesley Booth is...
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