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

Aug 15 2017

A cardboard palace by Allayne L. Webster

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Midnight Sun Publishing, 2017. ISBN 9781925227253
(Age: 10-14) Highly recommended. Themes: Poverty, Refugees, Child Labour, Survival. Allayne Webster's A Cardboard Palace is a powerful story giving a voice to the plight of Romany children taken from their parents and forced to work as pickpockets and thieves in Paris. Jorge lives in No Man's Land a shantytown with ramshackle huts made from scavenged materials. It is a life of desperation and poverty. His controller Bill forces his gang of six girls and four boys to steal from the tourists and locals, at ATMs, in the Louvre, and on the Metro Stations. The children are quick-witted, cunning and fast, taught the tricks of the trade by the villainous Bill.
Jorge is torn between obeying this man and trying to protect his friends. There is a moral dilemma and he wants his voice to be heard. While Abel keeps some of the money he steals to buy food, Jorge keeps nothing for himself. Camp life is confronting, a sick child disappears, trafficked children are locked up and twelve-year-old girls sold as child brides to older men. Their parents keen to receive the dowry money.
When Jorge scavenges in a dumpster behind a cafe, he meets Sticky Ricky an Australian chef who befriends him, feeds him leftovers and takes up the fight to free these children from the gang. There are tense scenes as the special taskforce moves in to evacuate the children and the Catacombs setting where friends save the day.
A Cardboard Palace is a modern Oliver Twist story, where one boy's courage, resilience and determination shine through. Allayne Webster's Parisienne setting shows a different reality, one of poverty and hardship. The light and shade of the narrative, the emotional resonance of Jorge's voice and her honesty in portraying these deeper issues, make this a novel suited to more mature readers. In Year 7 and 8 students engaging with this literary text, can discuss the ethical dilemmas presented and the interpersonal relationships of the characters. (ACARA)
Rhyllis Bignell



More Reviews

Aug 15 2017

Where is Grandma? by Peter Schossow

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Gecko Press (NZ), 2017. ISBN 9781776571543
(Age: 5+) Highly recommended. Hospitals, Humour, Grandparents. This beautifully evocative picture book about a child trying to find his grandmother in a large busy hospital, is not only a wonderful tale of discovery, but it tells readers why a...
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Aug 15 2017

Lintang and the Pirate Queen by Tamara Moss

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Random House Australia, 2017. ISBN 9780143783435
(Age: 11+) Recommended. Lintang dreams of having adventures on the high seas. When a deadly mythie attacks the same day the infamous Captain Shafira visits her island, Lintang gets her chance, defending her village with a bravery that...
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Aug 15 2017

Little Lunch: Triple the Laughs by Danny Katz

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Ill. by Mitch Vane. Black Dog Books, 2017. ISBN 9781921977398
(Age: 6+) Themes: School stories; Friendship; Food; Dress-up Day; Germs. Three stories, made into the successful ABC series Little Lunch, highlight the antics of kids at school. Little Lunch, or as some know it -...
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Aug 15 2017

Remind me how this ends by Gabrielle Tozer

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Angus and Robertson, 2017. ISBN 9781460751688
(Age: 14+) Recommended. Durnan is really a backwater now that Milo's girlfriend has moved 300kms away to University. Milo finished Yr 12 with plenty of options but he's stuck, working in the family bookstore. It doesn't look as if he's going...
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Aug 15 2017

Rockabye Pirate by Timothy Knapman

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Ill. by Ada Grey. Bloomsbury, 2017. ISBN 9781408849392
Rock-a-bye pirate, in the crow's nest
Mummy says bedtime, and Mummy knows best.
You've had your adventures, you've sailed the high seas,
So under the covers and go to sleep, please.

During the day, this little...
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Aug 15 2017

Shaozhen by Wai Chim

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Through my eyes, natural disaster zones book 2. Allen And Unwin, 2017. ISBN 9781760113797
(Age: Year 4+) Highly recommended. This is a thought provoking account of the hardship a small village faced in the 2014 drought in Henan, China. Shaozhen has no intention of staying in his...
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Aug 15 2017

Survival skills handbook, series by Bear Grylls

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Knots. ISBN: 9781783422982
Camping. ISBN 9781783422593
Maps and navigation. ISBN 9781783423002
Dangers and emergencies. ISBN 9781783422999
(Age: 8+) Recommended. Survival. Camping. Knots. Navigation. First Aid. Bear Grylls is the world famous...
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Aug 15 2017

Blossom by Tamsin Janu

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Scholastic Australia, 2017. ISBN 9781742991641
(Age: 9+) Recommended. Author Tamsin Janu has hit the jackpot again. After the success of Figgy in the world and...
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Aug 15 2017

The very sleepy bear by Nick Bland

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Scholastic, 2017. ISBN 9781743812549
(Ages: 3-7) Recommended. Rhyme. Hibernation. This much-loved bear is back in his sixth book and this time he is preparing for winter hibernation. He is just settling in for the long winter when Fox appears and convinces him that a bear like him, 'so...
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Aug 14 2017

Because of you by Pip Harry

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UQP, 2017. ISBN 9780702259777
(Age: 15+) Hope. Homelessness. LGBTIQ. Writing. Friendship. Relationships. Everyone has a story... and words can transform lives.
In this YA novel we meet Tiny, a homeless teen who is barely recognised or heard, except by her down and out (and often...
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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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Aug 13 2017

Koala by Claire Saxby

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Ill. by Julie Vivas. Nature Storybooks. Walker Books, 2017. ISBN 9781925126396
(Age: 5+) Highly recommended. Australian animals, Koalas, Australian bush, Habitat. In the fork of a tree a young koala wakes. He goes to his mother, wanting to get back into the safety of her pouch but...
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Aug 13 2017

A is for Australian animals: a factastic tour by Frane Lessac

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Walker Books Australia, 2017. ISBN 9781925381009
(Age: 6+) Highly recommended. Factual picture book. Australian animals. This is a unique alphabet book that will enlighten and entertain any child or adult who reads it. Filled with Lessac's signature drawings the reader is given lots of...
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Aug 13 2017

A Monster Calls (film) book and screenplay by Patrick Ness

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Focus Features, 2016, released in Australia 2017
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. Fantasy, Monsters, Death, Cancer, Bullying, Acceptance. Conor (Lewis MacDougall) screams as he falls out of bed, clutching a hand slipping from his grasp. The clock shows 12.07 and he knows it is the old...
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Aug 13 2017

Tell it to the Dog, A Memoir of Sorts by Robert Power

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Transit Lounge, 2017. ISBN 9780995359505
(Age: 15+) Highly recommended. This remarkable collection of stories is often deeply emotionally disturbing, yet it is one of the most beautifully composed reflections on life that I have read. Subtitled a 'memoir of sorts', he includes mostly...
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Aug 13 2017

The secrets she keeps by Michael Robotham

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Hachette Australia, 2017. ISBN 9780733638015
(Age: Adult - senior secondary). Recommended. Psychological thriller. I always pick up a book by Michael Robotham and this one is every bit as compulsive as previous novels. It is a stand alone crime, told in two voices: Agatha who works in a...
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Aug 13 2017

Zombelina school days by Kristyn Crow

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Ill. by Molly Idle. Bloomsbury, 2017. ISBN 9781619636415
(Age: 3-6) Recommended. Themes: School life, Zombies, Dancing, Rhyming stories. Kristyn Crow's fun rhyming story Zombelina School Days is a perfect picture book for sharing with a younger audience. This story is filled with...
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Aug 10 2017

My lovely Frankie by Judith Clarke

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Allen and Unwin, 2017. ISBN 9781760296339
(Age: 12 +) Highly recommended. Catholic church, Priesthood, Love. Tom has retired from the priesthood, a vocation he entered at sixteen, and has now come to live in the town where Frankie, another boy in his seminary, lived. But Frankie...
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Aug 10 2017

Anna by Niccolo Ammaniti

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Text, 2017. ISBN 9781925498561
(Age: Middle secondary +) Recommended. Science fiction. Dystopian fiction. A virus has killed the adult population of the world in this future dystopia. The only survivors are children who inevitably die when they reach puberty. All the expected...
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Aug 10 2017

The secret of the Mona Lisa by Rosie Smith

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Ill. by Bruce Whatley. ABC Books, 2017. ISBN 9780733326059
(Age: 5+) Recommended. Art, Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci. Presented in graphic novel form the funny tale of Danny da Vinci and his friend, Mick Angelo, will intrigue, delight and inform readers as the pair hunts around for a...
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Aug 10 2017

The high note by Harmony Jones

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Girl vs Boy Band book 2. Bloomsbury, 2017. ISBN 9781408878279
(Age: 11-15) Recommended. Themes: Music Industry; Boy bands; Music; Relationships; Fame; Friendship. Lark Campbell is the talented child of a Music Promoter and a Country Music Back-up Musician, who are recently...
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Aug 10 2017

The Forgotten Sisters by Shannon Hale

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Princess Academy book 3. Bloomsbury, 2015. ISBN 9781408855416
(Age: 11-15) Highly recommended. Themes: Adventure; Honour; Royalty; Fantasy; Heroism. My one regret in reading this book is that I had not discovered this series earlier. This is a wonderful fantasy tale of love, loss...
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Aug 10 2017

The ones that disappeared by Zana Fraillon

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Lothian, 2017. ISBN 9780734417152
(Age: 12+) Recommended. Esra, Miran and Isa are three children trapped by human traffickers, and forced to spend every day tending to drug plants in a basement for the cruel and merciless Orlando, the leader of the Snakeskins. They have been branded with...
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Aug 10 2017

A dog's tale by Barry Jonsberg

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Ill. by Tom Jellett. Mates series. Scholastic, 2017. ISBN 9781742991399
(Age: 6+) Highly recommended. Dogs. Animals. Friendship.
Another in the Mates series, a wonderful range of stories designed for the young, newly competent reader, with short chapters, a smattering...
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Aug 10 2017

That stubborn seed of hope by Brian Falkner

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University of Queensland Press, 2017. ISBN 9780702259289
(Age 13+) Highly recommended. Short stories. This is a fabulous collection of stories that will appeal to a wide range of people. Falkner's tales will scare the readers, make them think, feel good and wonder what is going to happen...
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Aug 10 2017

Go, green gecko! by Gay Hay

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Ill. by Margaret Tolland. Starfish Bay Children's Books, 2017. ISBN 9781760360337
(Age: 4-7) Highly recommended. Geckos. Lizards. Animals - Food. Gay Hay is a New Zealand school environmental officer passionate about sharing her love of animals, their diets and habitats with a young...
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Aug 10 2017

Mark of the Cyclops: An ancient Greek mystery by Saviour Pirotta

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Bloomsbury, 2017. ISBN 9781472934147
(Age: 9+) Recommended. 'It seems you have a talent for solving problems. I believe Gaia is innocent. Find the real culprit and I'll pay you in gold...'
Athens, 434 BC.
Nico's new friend Thrax has a strange knack of figuring things out. And...
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Aug 10 2017

Twinkle, twinkle, little star by David Ellwand

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Old Barn Books, 2017. ISBN 9781910646243
(Ages: 1-3) Musical book. Rhyme. Board book. This board book features photographs of David Ellwand's vintage teddies (also seen in previous publications such as Wheels on the bus) and a push-button violin recording of  'Twinkle twinkle...
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Aug 08 2017

The Hate U Give (THUG) by Angie Thomas

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Walker Books, 2017. ISBN 9781406372151
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. Navigating between life as the only person of colour (POC) at a prestigious prep school in the suburbs, and being the only kid in the projects who can afford to go to such a school, Starr Carter doesn't know who she...
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Aug 08 2017

Fenn Halflin and the Seaborn by Francesca Armour-Chelu

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Walker Books, 2017. ISBN 9781406366181
(Age; 10 -14) Recommended. Survival. Floods. Future worlds. Good and evil. Fenn Halflin and the seaborn concludes the epic story of Fenn and his mongoose Tikki as they flee from the fierce Terra Firma. This fast-paced novel, starts...
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Aug 08 2017

I want to be in a book by Narelle Oliver

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Omnibus Books, 2017. ISBN 9781743811634
(Ages: 5-8) Creative writing. Imagination. Cecil is a lizard hand-drawn on a piece of lined paper from an exercise book. He has big dreams: he wants to be in a book. He has watched while other drawings around him were ripped off the pin-board. He...
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Aug 08 2017

Truly foul and cheesy animal jokes and facts by John Townsend

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Ill. by David Antram. Big Sky Publishing, 2017. ISBN 9781925520484
(Age: 7+) Recommended for kids who like jokes. The introduction to this very funny book says it all: 'Warning - reading this book might not make you LOL (laugh out loud) but it could make you GOL (groan out loud), feel...
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Aug 08 2017

The Pacific Room by Michael Fitzgerald

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Transit Lounge, 2017. ISBN 9780995359550
(Age: Senior secondary - Adult) Recommended. The famous Italian painter Girolamo Nerli travelled to Samoa in 1892 to paint a portrait of the author of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, hoping to capture an apprehension of a state of mind that was 'not...
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Aug 08 2017

Froggy green by Anna Walker

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Puffin Books, 2017. ISBN 9780143785835
(Ages: 0-3) Board Book. Colours. This is a very simple book about colour and its vivid illustrations are a standout. It starts by stating, 'Everyone likes different colours', and then shows us some children and the colour that they like (e.g. 'Sam...
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Aug 03 2017

Opposite land by Charlotte Rose Hamlyn

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Random House Australia, 2017. ISBN 9780143780816
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. Have you ever wanted icecream for dinner and your mum has said in opposite land, well this happened to Stevie. She went to opposite land and found herself trying to save it. Opposite land is where socks wear...
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Aug 03 2017

Out of heart by Ifran Master

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Hot Key Books 2017. ISBN 9781471405075
(Age: 12+) Recommended. The heart is one of the most important organs in the human body. A heart donation can be a wonderful and generous thing, giving another person another chance at life. When Adam's Dadda passes he leaves a great hole in the...
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Aug 03 2017

The sloth who came to stay by Margaret Wild

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Ill. by Vivienne To. Allen & Unwin, 2017. ISBN 9781760290221
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Sloths. Family. Amy's family is the fastest in the world, they do everything at breakneck speed. They do everything so quickly there is never enough time to sit and talk. They walk, shop and...
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Aug 03 2017

Shoot-out at the Rock by Jane Smith

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Tommy Bell Bushranger Boy Book 1. Big Sky Publishing, August 2016. ISBN 9781925275940
(Age: 7+) Tommy Bell is a young boy who has trouble at school, most of which he makes for himself. At the beginning of the book, he is kept in at lunchtime because he failed a history test on the...
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Aug 03 2017

What the ladybird heard on holiday by Julia Donaldson

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Ill. by Lydia Monks. Macmillan Children's Books, 2017. ISBN 9781509837328
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Crime. Ladybirds. Zoos. London. With the two previous books What the ladybird heard and What the ladybird heard...
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Aug 03 2017

Saints for all occasions by Courtney Sullivan

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Fleet, 2017. ISBN 9781844089383
(Age: Senior secondary - Adults) Immigration. Families. Siblings. Irish/Americans. Catholic faith. Nuns. This family saga opens in 2009 with Nora Rafferty rushing to hospital to find her 50 year old eldest son Patrick has died in a car accident. One of the...
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Aug 01 2017

Chase by Linwood Barclay

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Hachette, 2017. ISBN 9781510102194
(Age: 9+) Highly recommended. Chase, written by famous adult crime author, Linwood Barclay, is a thrilling adventure full of secrets, danger and of course running. The book is action-packed with loads of suspense and a major plot twist, which...
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Aug 01 2017

Convergence by Marita Smith

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Harbour Publishing House 2017. ISBN 9781922134158
(Age: 13+) Convergence is a blend of the scientific and the spiritual in face of environmental disaster. It follows the story of Robyn Greene and her discovery of an ancient gene that can enable humans to communicate with animals....
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Aug 01 2017

Ella saw the tree by Robert Vescio

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Big Sky Publishing, 2017. ISBN 9781925520378
Picture book. Highly recommended. When you can't see the trees right in front of you what else are you missing?
This is a well illustrated book, the pictures help you to believe that Ella is doing all of the things she is imagining. Until...
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Aug 01 2017

Big stink by Mac Park

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Ill. by James Hart. D-Bot Squad , book 4. Allen & Unwin, 2017. ISBN 9781760296001
(Age: 5-7) Recommended. Hunter and his friend Charlie continue on their adventures in Big stink. Hunter has been bailed up by a stegosaurus, who makes the most enormous farts, so much so...
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Aug 01 2017

Guff by Aaron Blabey

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Penguin Books Australia, 2017. ISBN 9780670077175
(Age: 3+) Recommended. Friendship. Stuffed toys. Looking rather worse for wear on the front cover, Guff the much loved stuffed animal toy is the constant companion of his owner. She takes him everywhere, from bed to an outing on the bus,...
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Aug 01 2017

Aliens, ghosts and vanishings: Strange and possibly true Australian stories by Stella Tarakson

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Ill. by Richard Morden. Random House Australia, 2016. ISBN 9781925324969
Australia really is a 'story country' and the tales, tall and true that have been collected in this volume prove just how rich and diverse this nation is. Even our unofficial national anthem focuses on a ghost so...
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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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