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 19 2014

Head of the River by Pip Harry

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University of Queensland Press, 2014. ISBN 9780702253263.
(Ages 13+) Recommended. Set in present-day Melbourne, Head of the River tells the story of seventeen-year-old fraternal twins desperate to lead their school to victory in Head of the River. Their stories begin six months prior to Head of the River, an Australian school rowing event, however the twins, Leni and Christian both encounter many different challenges that push them to their limits as they fight to stay on the team while maintaining relationships with peers and family.
All the characters in Head of the River were well rounded and relatable, with both flaws and merits that affected how they interacted with their surroundings. The story alternates between Christian and Leni's point-of-view. Both have the same goal, however their personalities and choices take them on completely different journeys. While Christian considers the use of drugs and steroids to lose weight and make it back onto the team, Leni finds herself trying to manage relationships and school while training for the big event. The plot is very character driven, and although it is a bit slow to begin with, it quickly picks up. It was refreshing to see characters in realistic situations face realistic consequences based on their choices. The dialogue flows smoothly and adds to the characters. There is some coarse language, however it is used sparingly to show the mood or personality of characters. Head of the River deals with themes such as family, peer-pressure, drugs and friendship in a mature and sensitive way while stressing the importance of decisions and how they impact both the lives of individuals as well as those around them. The writing style is simple and unobtrusive, with the tone changing depending on the point-of-view. It instils a wide range of emotions in the reader from guilt to joy and creates vivid scenes that remain true to life. The first person, present tense gives readers and in depth look into the protagonists' minds and keeps them on edge as the plot develops.
Overall, Head of the River is a highly enjoyable, thoughtful read that takes readers on a rollercoaster of emotions with complex and three-dimensional characters that stay with them even after the end. The novel deals with issues that are relevant to many teenagers' lives and shows the importance of family and friends. Head of the River appeals those who would rather curl up with a book than go outside as well as those who enjoy sports, specifically rowing, making it a very entertaining read.
Ruby T. (Student)

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Sep 19 2014

A Last Dragon Slayer Novel: The Eye of Zoltar by Jasper Fforde

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Hodder & Stoughton, 2014. ISBN 9781444707281.
(Age: 11+) Jasper Fforde uses a very conversational tone to portray his main character, Jennifer Strange, an orphan working for the Kazam house of enchantment in a very warped presentation of the word as we know it.
Set in the...
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Sep 19 2014

Look and see by Shane Morgan

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Magabala Books, 2014. ISBN 9781922142221.
(Age: Preschool) Aboriginal themes. Animals. Shane Morgan, a descendant of the Yorta Yorta people of Victoria received an advanced diploma from the Goulburn Community College where he studied Koorie Art and Design. He has put his skills to good...
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Sep 19 2014

Hasel and Rose by Caroline Magerl

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Penguin/Viking 2014. ISBN 9780670077342.
'Rose was a new face in a new street. And there was a new town right outside her window.' What, for some, might be the start of a new adventure filled with anticipation and excitement, for Rose is a descent into loneliness and apprehension. Rose...
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Sep 19 2014

Do you dare? series

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Puffin, 2014
1836: Fighting Bones by Sophie Laguna. ISBN 9780143307556.
1844: The Last Horse Race by James Moloney. ISBN 9780143307822.
(Age: Yr 3+) To quote Penguin's publicity because it encapsulates the concept so well . . . 'Do You Dare fills a...
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Sep 19 2014

Caro was here by Elizabeth Farrelly

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Walker Books, 2014. ISBN 9781922244833.
(Age: 11+) Recommended. A short novel about 12 year olds and younger siblings taking an illegal afternoon off school and finding an unlikely adventure, and real danger, on deserted Goat Island in Sydney Harbor. Set in the modern world, the...
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Sep 19 2014

Emilio by Sophie Masson

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Through My Eyes series. Allen & Unwin, 2014. ISBN: 9781743312476.
(Age:11-14) Sophie Masson continues the excellent work in this series by providing readers with an action-packed and vivid account of one boy's experience in Mexico City. Emilio Lopez lives with his mother, a...
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Sep 18 2014

Nightmares by Jason Segel & Kirsten Miller

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Corgi Childrens, 2014. ISBN 9780552571920
(Ages: 9+) Highly recommended. Charlie Laird has several problems.
1. His dad married a woman he is sure moonlights as a witch.
2. He had to move into her purple mansion, which is NOT a place you want to find yourself after dark.
3....
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Sep 18 2014

The masked echidna by Michael Salmon

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Five Mile Press, 2014. ISBN 9781760063061.
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Humour. Australian animals. Bullying. Echidna fancies himself a superhero, especially after spending his days watching his favourite films on his huge TV. So when the Wombat Brothers come to town bothering the population...
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Sep 18 2014

Clementine Rose and the treasure box by Jacqueline Harvey

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Random House Australia Children's, 2014. ISBN 9781742757537.
(Age: 7+) There is something so delightfully Milly-Molly-Mandy-ish about the Clementine Rose books! In this new episode Clementine Rose is thrilled when the old house at the end of the lane is refurbished and an...
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Sep 18 2014

Yolo by Sam Jones

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Simon & Schuster, 2014.
Simon Pulse, 2014. ISBN 9781481415484.  (Ages: 14+) Companion novel to Wtf and Fml. Contemporary fiction. The party of the year is tonight and Emily, Brandon and Ana are about to get more than they bargain for when they set out on their road...
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Sep 18 2014

Bears, bears, bears by Martin Waddell

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Ill. by Lee Wildish. Hodder Children's Books, 2014. ISBN 9781444906790.
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Bears, Greed. Loving bears as she does, Ruby puts up a sign inviting bears to come and play with her. One bear appears from the Bear Wood, and together the two have bear hugs and play chasey....
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Sep 16 2014

The one and only Jack Chant by Rosie Borella

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Allen & Unwin, 2014. ISBN 9781743311387.
(Ages: 13-16) Highly recommended for Upper Primary/Lower Secondary with particular appeal to girls. Amber has finished school and her friends have all left town - scattered to universities and other places but somehow Amber is just not sure...
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Sep 16 2014

Bridie's boots by Phil Cummings

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Ill. by Sara Acton. Working Title Press, 2014. ISBN 9781921504723.
(Age: 4-8) Highly recommended. Weather. Age. Compassion. Bridie adores her red boots and during the winter she turns five they do all sorts of things together, having many adventures, sloshing through puddles, braving...
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Sep 16 2014

To this day: For the bullied and beautiful by Shane Koyczan

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Walker Books, 2014. ISBN 9781925081510.
(Age: All ) Recommended. Bullying. The author of this poem about bullying is described as a spoken word artist who claims to have been bullied as a child. This print version features thirty different illustrators' responses to the text which has...
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Sep 16 2014

The Rapunzel dilemma by Jennifer Kloester

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Penguin, 2014. ISBN 9780143571087
Recommended for ages 12+ (middle school). Lily de Tourney lives a charmed and affluent life despite the death of her mother. So when she's offered a place in the London Drama Academy, Lily's dream school, she becomes surprised when nothing goes her way....
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Sep 12 2014

The land of stories: A Grimm warning by Chris Colfer

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Hachette, 2014. Bk 3. ISBN 9780349124377.
(Age 10+) Highly recommended. Smoke filled the sky above the treetops in the distance. A horrible screeching noise erupted through the air. Everyone standing at the palace covered their ears from the dreadful sound.
Alex and Conner Bailey...
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Sep 12 2014

The monster who ate Australia by Michael Salmon

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Ford St, 2014. ISBN 9781925000542
(Age: 5-10) Recommended. Picture book. Australia. Humour. Journeys. The thirtieth anniversary edition of this book will find a place in Australian schools where it will be used as an adjunct to the emphasis now given to Geography in the...
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Sep 12 2014

Funny bunnies (series) by David Melling

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Hachette, 2014.
Rain or shine. ISBN 9781444919127.
Up and down. ISBN 9781444917840.
(Age: Preschool) Board book. Preschool. Weather. Two books in this series Funny bunnies, Rain or shine, and Up and down, are designed to be held by young...
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Sep 12 2014

Panic by Sharon M. Draper

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Simon & Schuster, 2013. ISBN 9781442408975.
(Age 14+) Sexual exploitation and abuse. Family issues. Teenage issues. Dancing. Relationships. The cover of this book displays a beautiful tropical butterfly pinned sadly by one wing. This is a metaphor for what is to follow in this sad...
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Sep 12 2014

Emus under the bed by Leann J Edwards

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Allen & Unwin, 2014. ISBN 978743313459.
(Age: Preschool) Recommended. Picture book. Indigenous themes. When the narrator visits her Aunt Dollo on Saturdays, she not only connects with family, but her Aboriginal culture. Aunt Dollo is an artist. She collects feathers from all sorts of...
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Sep 10 2014

Hana's suitcase: a true story by Karen Levine

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Anniversary edition, Allen & Unwin, 2014. ISBN 9781743317679.
(Ages: 10-14) Highly recommended. There would be few people who remain unaware of the poignant story of Hana's suitcase and the diligent unravelling that brought a young Holocaust victim back to the living. After...
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Sep 10 2014

Our village in the sky by Janeen Brian

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Ill. by Anne Spudvilas. Allen & Unwin, 2014. ISBN 9781743318140.
(Age: 7+) Recommended. Poetry. Himalayas. Village life. With short poems reflecting the lifestyle of those who live in the village and its setting in the Himalayas, this books is a treat. Each poem shows another aspect...
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Sep 10 2014

How to babysit a grandma by Jean Reagan

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Ill. by Lee Wildish. Hachette Children's Books, 2014. ISBN 9781444918120.
(Age: 4-6) Picture book. Grandmothers. Babysitting. Family. If a child has any concerns going to stay overnight with Grandma, then this book will ensure they are all dissolved as the task is turned on its head...
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Sep 10 2014

The astrologer's daughter by Rebecca Lim

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Text Publishing, 2014. ISBN 9781922182005.
(Age: 14+) Recommended. Avicenna never wanted to become an astrologer as her mother, Joanne, was. Avicenna knew the trade, understood it, but never wanted to be one herself. However, when her mother disappears she is forced to follow in her...
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Sep 10 2014

Sonoma meets Miss Mouse by Di Morrissey

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Ill. by Julie Sydenham. Harbour Publishing, 2014. ISBN 9781922134400.
This is the first children's book written by popular Australian author Di Morrissey. With experience spanning over two decades in publishing, Morrissey is known for her adult fiction that covers themes including...
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Sep 10 2014

A secret safe to tell by Naomi Hunter

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Ill. by Karen Erasmus. JoJo Publishing, 2014. ISBN 9780987587916.
'He said I would get into BIG TROUBLE if I told anyone... I never wanted to be bad.'
'He said I would UPSET a lot of people if they knew what I had done... I didn't want to make anyone cry'
'He made hurts in places...
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Sep 10 2014

Magisterium: The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black

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Doubleday, 2014. ISBN 9780857532503.
(Ages: 11+) Themes: Magic, Family, Boarding Schools, Disability, Orphans, Grief/Loss, Good v Evil. The Iron Trial is the first book in a new series which will appeal to middle school readers who love Harry Potter. Unfortunately, some reviewers...
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Sep 09 2014

Stuff happens series by various authors

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Penguin Australia, 2014.
Michael by Phillip Gwynne. ISBN 9780143308102
Sean by Will Kostakis. ISBN 9780143308119
Highly recommended for boys from 7-11. Stuff happens is an exciting new series written specifically for boys aged from seven to eleven, that...
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Sep 09 2014

As red as blood by Salla Simukka

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Hot Keys Publishing, 2014. ISBN 9781471402463.
(Age: 13+ secondary). Highly recommended. Salla Simukka's As red as blood ticked all the boxes with me. I instantly fell in love with Lumikki, the heroine in the tale and her sharp mind, witty humour and brain power. Simukka has...
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Sep 09 2014

Baby on board by Kes Gray

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Ill. by Sarah Mayer. Hachette, 2014. ISBN 9781444920901.
(Age: Preschool) Picture book. Pregnancy and birth. Family. Mum's pregnancy involves the whole family as the narrator shows us the procedure of the pregnancy from the first month to the last.
Each double page tells us what...
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Sep 09 2014

The seventh Miss Hatfield by Anna Caltabiano

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Gollancz Publishing Group, 2014. ISBN 9781473200395.
Recommended for readers ages 12+ (middle school). Caltibiano's The seventh Miss Hatfield intertwines an original concept of time-travel and the endeavours of immortality into one tale. As I had heard of this novel in the past,...
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Sep 09 2014

Snow dog, sand dog by Linda Joy Singleton

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Jess Golden. Albert Whitman & Co., 2014. ISBN 9780807575369
What do you do when you desperately want a dog of your own, but real ones make you sneeze? Well, you can do what Ally does initially and draw pictures of them or you can go a step further and make one, using your imagination...
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