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

May 22 2015

A countess below stairs by Eva Ibbotson

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Speak, 2007. ISBN 9780142408650
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. Romance. Feel good book. The Russian aristocracy have been forced to flee abroad by the Russian Revolution. Anna Grazinsky, a young countess, has been left penniless and decides that she can no longer live with her English governess Miss Pinfold and takes a job as a domestic servant in the household of the Westerholme family. Rupert, the Earl of Westerholme, has recently become engaged to a beautiful heiress and his country house must be made fitting for the new bride. Anna, armed only with The domestic servant's compendium by Selina Strickland, arrives at Mersham where she tries to hide her identity while falling in love with Mersham and the earl.
Anna is perhaps Ibbotson's most memorable heroine. She is that rare person who has a natural goodness that wealth and gifts couldn't spoil. Wherever she goes, her joy and ability to really see and enjoy what is around her, spreads to those she comes in contact with and enhances their lives. Rupert, too, is a memorable character. Wounded in the war, he has been nursed back to health by Muriel, a wealthy VAD, who on the surface is beautiful and generous. However as Rupert gets to know her in his own home, her belief in eugenics leads her to treat badly those loved members of the community around her who are not perfect. Rupert is an honourable man and is torn between doing what he considers is his duty and his growing love for the strange Russian girl who is acting as a maid.
Minor characters are beautifully portrayed and the reader becomes caught up in their lives as well as learning much about their environment. Ollie is the brave little girl who lives nearby and who has struggled with a damaged leg and Ibbotson tugs at the heartstrings of her reader as she is chosen to become a bridesmaid. Mrs Park the cook brings wonderful delicacies to the table and Mr Proom the butler is a wily and canny man who has a vital role to play in the story. The life of the Russian emigres as they struggle against poverty and bias is also vividly described and adds detail and interest to the story.
Eva Ibbotson has written a beautiful, intelligent romance that is perfect for the reader who enjoy books by Georgette Heyer or who wants a feel good, comfort book that challenges thinking and enlivens understanding of how vividly language can be used. First published as an adult book, other romances by Ibbotson have also been re-issued for the teen market and titles include A song for summer, A company of swans, The reluctant heiress and The morning gift.
Pat Pledger

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May 22 2015

Billie's great desert adventure by Sally Rippin

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Ill. by Alisa Coburn. Billie's Super Dooper Adventures series. Hardie Grant Egmont, 2015. ISBN 9781760124434
(Age: 5-7) Recommended for fans of the Billie B series and as an introduction to the characters for younger children. In this picture book Billie is having a rainy...
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May 22 2015

Ben by Jack Townend

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V&A Publishing, 2015. ISBN 9781851778287
Jenny the jeep by Jack Townend
V&A Publishing, 2015. ISBN 9781851778294
(Age: junior primary) Recommended. Steamroller. Loneliness. War in England. Design. Ben the steamroller works well with his supervisor, Mr Dodie. He...
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May 22 2015

Meet Banjo Paterson by Kristin Weidenbach and James Gulliver Hancock

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Random House Australia Children's, 2015. ISBN 9780857980083
The picture book series of Meet... has been extraordinarily successful in bringing the biographies of outstanding Australians to younger readers. Taking simple information and presenting it in a very accessible text...
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May 22 2015

Thank you: Cheeky monkey manners by Lisa Kerr

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Five Mile Press, 2015. ISBN 9781760067212
(Age: 1-3) Manners. This is a short board book suited for under 3 year olds to teach the simple courtesy of saying 'Thank you'. The cheeky monkey does not realise that the 'magic words' that his Grandma needs, and that he is sent to seek are the...
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May 21 2015

Wendy and the wallpaper cat by Jason Hook

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Ill. by Ilaria Demonti. Bloomsbury, 2015. ISBN 9781851778300
(Age: Junior primary) Highly recommended. Art and design. Sleeping. Bedtime. Grandparents. When Wendy cannot sleep, her parents decide to take her to see Grandpa Walter. She has never visited his house before, and cannot help...
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May 21 2015

The monster within by Darrell Pitt

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A Jack Mason adventure Book 4. Text Publishing, 2015. ISBN 9781922182876
(Age: 9-12) Recommended. Victorian London. Steampunk Fiction. Detectives. Mysteries. Kaboom! The streets of London are filled with people shopping, walking and enjoying the first day of summer when an...
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May 21 2015

Our baby by Margaret Wild

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Ill. by Karen Blair. Working Title Press, 2015. ISBN 9781921504785
(Age: 0-4) Recommended. Babies (Human). Families. Siblings. Brothers and sisters. Our baby is an observance of families, all sorts, nuclear, with two mums or two dads and those that live together or live apart. The...
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May 21 2015

Clementine Rose and the movie magic by Jacqueline Harvey

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Random House Australia, 2015. ISBN 9780857985187
The avid Clementine Rose in your library crowd will eagerly pounce on No #9 in this sweet series. This latest adventure sees the beginning of next door neighbour Basil's film documentary about Penberthy House - of course, starring...
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May 20 2015

Don't think about purple elephants by Susan Whelan

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Ill. by Gwynneth Jones. Exisle Publishing, 2015. ISBN 9781921966699
(Age: 4-8) Highly recommended. Subjects: Anxiety, Worry, Overcoming Fear, Bedtime, Family Life, Psychology. Susan Whelan draws from her own family experiences with a young daughter who was anxious about bedtime, when all...
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May 20 2015

A single stone by Meg McKinlay

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Walker Books, 2015. ISBN 9781925081701
(Age: 13+) Recommended. An island . . . a valley . . . a village . . . a completely isolated civilization with strange customs and beliefs to rationalize survival. Jena is a young girl, barely a teenager, but she leads an elite group of petite girls...
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May 20 2015

Hop up! Wriggle over! by Elizabeth Honey

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Allen & Unwin, 2015. ISBN 9781743319987
(Age: Early childhood) Recommended. Australian Animals, Bed time, Daily activities. Nine bouncing baby Australian animals roll across each of the pages in this enchanting look at the activities a family undertakes during a day. From getting up...
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May 18 2015

Kookoo Kookaburra by Gregg Dreise

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Magabala Books, 2015. ISBN 9781921248900
(Age: 4-8) Highly recommended. Themes: Aboriginal peoples - Dreaming, Kookaburras, Kindness, Gentleness. 'Kindness is like a boomerang - if you throw it often, it comes back often.'
Greg Dreise's second morality tale Kookoo kookaburra...
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May 18 2015

Tilly's big problem by Rose Stanley

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Ill. by Lisa Allen. Starfish Bay Publishing, 2014. ISBN 9780994100306
(Age:(for children under 8). Recommended. Themes: Problems; Counselling; Social and emotional development; Problem Solving; Peer support. Tilly has a problem so big that she is unable to deal with it on her own. Her...
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May 18 2015

Lifespan of Starlight by Thalia Kalkipsakis

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Hardie Grant Egmont, 2015. ISBN: 9781742978710
(Age: 15+) Scout, Mason and Bloc live in the future, 2084. It is a world where most humans are microchipped. With a microchip the human has access to food, water, accommodation and travel. All travel, food and water is monitored and...
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May 16 2015

The Story of Owen by E.K. Johnston

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Dragon Slayer of Trondheim bk 1. CarolRhoda Lab, 2014. ISBN 9781467710664
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. Science fiction. Fantasy. Music. 2015 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults (Top Ten), William C. Morris YA Debut Award Nominee (2015), Kirkus Prize Nominee for Young...
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May 16 2015

The silent boy by Andrew Taylor

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Harper, 2015. ISBN 9780007506606
(Age: Young adult/adult) Highly recommended. Crime, Historical novel, French Revolution, Eighteenth century England. When young Charles sees his mother, Augusta killed during the first stages of the French Revolution, he keeps himself quiet and...
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May 16 2015

Judy Moody, Mood Martian by Megan McDonald

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Ill. by Peter H. Reynolds. Judy Moody bk 12. Walker Books, 2015. ISBN 9781406357837
(Age: 7-9) Recommended. Themes: School stories, Family Life, Emotions, Friends. Judy Moody returns in Judy Moody, Mood Martian, and the young girl we know and love, the emotional, messy,...
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May 14 2015

Assembly of shapes by Danielle Weiler

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Ranga Books, 2015. ISBN 9780987546715
(Age: 16+) Highly recommended. 'I need a place, just for me, a place to escape, a place to just be. If I could create an assembly of shapes on endless pages I do believe my life would be complete.'
The main character, Chas is an intense...
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May 14 2015

Home by Carson Ellis

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Walker, 2015. ISBN 9781406359428
(Age: 4-8) Highly recommended. Housing. Homes. Imagination. Buildings. Carson Ellis is an artist and illustrator whose unique naive style is showcased in her debut picture book Home. She is known for her artistic covers on band albums and...
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May 14 2015

Teddy took the train by Nicki Greenwood

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Allen & Unwin, 2015. ISBN 9781760112134
(Age: 3-5) Recommended. Teddy bears. Poetry. Lost and found. Trains. The market place is bustling as Dot and Teddy are finishing the shopping, they race after Mum to catch the early train. The train is crowded, Dot squeezes in to get the window...
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May 14 2015

Bears don't read by Emma Chichester Clark

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HarperCollins, 2014. ISBN 9780007425181
Bear is not like the other grizzly bears in the woods. While they are perfectly happy doing bear things like fishing, Bear is bored.
"Oh, life is lovely," he thought. "Tra-la-la and all that! But is this it?" he wondered. "Is this all there...
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May 13 2015

Hanna: My Holocaust Story by Goldie Alexander

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My Holocaust Story series. Scholastic Australia, 2015. ISBN 9781743629673
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. Themes: Poland, Holocaust, World War 11, Survival, Family Life, Courage. Only this afternoon Papa had warned us of the German threat to Poland. Now the Luftwaffe's bombs had...
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May 13 2015

Havoc by Jane Higgins

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Text, 2015. ISBN: 9781922147295
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. This dystopian novel is the sequel to Bridge (winner of the Text Prize for Young Adult and Children's Writing in 2010) and has the reader urgently turning the page to see what happens next.
Nick Stais and...
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May 13 2015

Akarnae by Lynette Noni

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Pantera Press, 2015. ISBN: 9781921997501
Recommended. Much to her dismay, Alexandra Jennings is being shipped off to boarding school while her archaeologist parents make their next big discovery. But Alex is taken by surprise when she walks into the principal's office on her first day...
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May 13 2015

Big Digger ABC by Margaret Mayo

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Ill. by Alex Ayliffe. Awesome Engines. Hachette, 2015. ISBN 9781408332696
(Age: 3-6) Recommended. Subjects: Transport, Boats, Cars, Trucks, Road vehicles. Margaret Mayo and Alex Ayliffe have rolled out another fun picture book in their Awesome Engines series. From...
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May 12 2015

For the forest of a bird by Sue Saliba

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Penguin, 2015. ISBN 9780143571780
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. Change. Perception. Divorce. Environment. Nella has a secret vigil. She waits by the creek for the return of the swallows in spring, believing that her father, like the swallows, will return home. At home, her mother's...
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May 12 2015

Fish out of water by Natalie Whipple

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Hot Key Books, 2015. ISBN 9781471404306
(Age: 16+) "People like to think fish don't have feelings - it's easier that way - but as I watch the last guppy squirm in his bag, his eyes seem to plead with me. I get the sense that it knows just as well as I do that bad things are on the...
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May 12 2015

This is a ball by Beck and Matt Stanton

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ABC Books, 2015. ISBN 9780733334351
(Age: 5-8) Recommended. Humourous stories. Beck and Matt Stanton's picture book This is a ball is similar in style to BJ Novak's bestseller The book with no pictures. From the greeting and questions at the beginning through to the range...
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May 12 2015

A bed for Bear by Clive McFarland

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HarperCollins, 2014. ISBN 9780062237057
(Age: Preschool - Yr 2) Winter is coming and it is time for bears to hibernate. But Bernard Bear did not want to sleep in the bear cave. It was too noisy, too big and too crowded. But he must find somewhere . . . and soon. So he sets out to find a...
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May 11 2015

Hooray! It's a new royal baby! by Martha Mumford

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Ill. by Ada Grey. Bloomsbury, 2015. ISBN 97814088 65712
(Age: 4-7) Royal family, Children, Siblings, Humour. The third book in the series of stories following the royal offspring born in the United Kingdom, is full of fun and promise just as the other two, with a parallel theme of how an...
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May 11 2015

A Small Madness by Dianne Touchell

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Allen & Unwin, 2015. ISBN 9781760110789
(Age: 16+) Highly recommended. This book is impossible to put down. This novel tackles the issues of teen pregnancy and the power of denial. Each character in this novel is etched in detail - being both believable and raw.
Rose and Michael...
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May 11 2015

The Reign by Lynne Stringer

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Verindon bk 3. Wombat Book, 2014. ISBN 9781921632709
In the third and final book of the Verindon series Lynne Stringer keeps the action ramped as star-crossed lovers, Keridan and Sarah finally get together, but for how long?
The book opens with Overlord, Lady Sarah,...
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May 11 2015

Any questions? by Marie-Louise Gay

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Allen & Unwin, 2015. ISBN 9781760113179
(Age: 6+) Writing, Imagination. The process of writing is given a wildly funny and unusual outing in this heavily illustrated book by Canadian author, Marie-Louise Gay. She tells of the amazing range of questions asked by a class of children,...
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May 11 2015

Tombquest by Michael Northrop

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Book of the Dead series, Book 1. Scholastic, 2015. ISBN 9781743629246
(Age: 10+) Themes: Egyptology, Adventure stories, Good & Evil, Museums. Another series from Scholastic where the reader has to wait patiently for the next instalment to be published. This is a dark story...
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