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

Jul 25 2014

Dancing on knives by Kate Forsyth

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Vintage Books Australia, 2014. ISBN 9780857983466.
(Age: Senior secondary) Recommended. Dancing on knives is an original story of a dysfunctional family living in a coastal town in New South Wales. The story is largely told through the eyes of Sarah, the eldest girl, who has made herself a prisoner in her own home for five years. She suffers from acute anxiety which Forsyth describes with both vivid clarity and sensitivity. The view of Sarah '(creeping) inside like an injured animal seeking sanctuary' and 'failure tasting like vomit in her throat' (p146) evoke compassion rather than frustration. Sarah is reminiscent of Laura in The glass menagerie but for Sarah the addiction is romance novels which she consumes voraciously as her choice of mind-opiate, but does little to satisfy her until she discovers Women in love which strikes a resounding chord.
In her 'prison' Sarah is surrounded by her three brothers, of whom Tom is the most understanding, and a stepsister, the brat, Kate. But with the use of flashbacks we are also introduced to her now deceased mother and her more influential grandmother Consuela who has left her the silk wrapped Tarot cards 'to help her see more clearly'. But what pervades this particular menagerie is the tempestuous Augustus, the father, who has a wild passion born out of his Spanish ancestry and his artistic disposition. Gus's moods set the tone for the house so when he disappears only to be found later hanging from a cliff the household is sent into further disarray, particularly as questions concerning the cause of his accident arise. This is the suspense which holds the plot together, but this novel is far from just a mystery. Its strength lies in Forsyth's ability to develop her characters deeply so that, as far as this world may be from our own, we can at some level relate to and empathise with them.
Like the Little mermaid in the brutal story of her childhood, Sarah is dancing on knives and we only hope that one day she may escape such torture.
Barb Rye

More Reviews

Jul 25 2014

Kelsey and the quest of the porcelain doll by Rosanne Hawke

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University of Queensland Press, 2014. ISBN 9780702253317.
(Age: 8+) Highly recommended. Pakistan. Floods. Family. Dolls. When Kelsey goes to Pakistan where her parents will assist with the aftermath of devastating floods, the girl is unsympathetic. She would prefer to stay at home with...
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Jul 25 2014

Ten Christmas crackers by Karen Erasmus

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Hachette, 2014. ISBN 9780734415622.
(Age: 4-6) Picture book. Christmas. Sung to the tune of 'Ten green bottles', this countdown to Christmas Day via the many things we associate with Christmas, is the first Christmas book I have seen this year, and there are still six months to...
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Jul 25 2014

Let her go by Dawn Barker

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Hachette Australia, 2014. ISBN 9780733632228.
The blurb of this book suggests it is 'part thriller, part mystery'. It is neither of these. It is instead a family saga based around the complications of surrogacy.
As a result of suffering from lupus, Zoe McAllister discovers she...
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Jul 25 2014

My grumpy day by Felicity Gardner

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Hachette Australia, 2014. ISBN 9780734415448.
Picture book. My grumpy day is the second book by Felicity Gardner to feature Max, the very cute gorilla. Written to be shared by preschoolers and their carers, it invites a discussion of the emotions we all experience, especially...
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Jul 24 2014

The protected by Claire Zorn

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University of Queensland Press, 2014. ISBN 9780702250194
(Age: 14+) Recommended. On the front cover A. J. Betts describes The protected as 'a tender story of grief, trust and healing - Hannah broke my heart'. Nothing could be more accurate.
The story is told in Hannah's voice...
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Jul 24 2014

Our island: The children of Gununa by Alison Lester and Elizabeth Honey

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Penguin, 2014. ISBN 9780670077687.
'Our island lies beneath a big blue sky,
surrounded by the turquoise sea.
Turtles glide through the clear salt water.
And dugongs graze on the banks of seagrass...'
And so begins the text of a most stunning pictorial book...
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Jul 24 2014

Magic animal friends: Molly Twinkletail runs away by Daisy Meadows

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Orchard Books, 2014. ISBN 9781408326268.
Rainbow magic books have been a popular choice for six to eight year old girls transitioning to chapter books. Magic animal friends is a new series from the same group and aimed at a similar audience. Molly Twinkletail runs...
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Jul 24 2014

The destiny of Violet and Luke by Jessica Sorensen

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Sphere, 2014. ISBN 9780751552621
(Age: 18+) Be warned, the language in this story of star-crossed lovers is 'strong', there is a very explicit description of sexual intercourse, the story includes drug taking and ends in a very dark way. If this is still for you and your school fiction...
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Jul 24 2014

Angela Nicely by Alan Macdonald

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Stripes Publishing, 2014. ISBN 9781847153838.
(Age: 9+) Angela Nicely looks nice but loves getting into mischief. This novel has 3 short stories so is a great book for girls aged 9+ and starting out with longer books. In the first story, Angela is determined to prove their teacher is...
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Jul 23 2014

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick

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Simon and Schuster, 2014. ISBN: 9781471123221.
Recommended for readers 15+. Based on the Emmy Award-winning YouTube series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a modern day depiction of the Pride and Prejudice story.
The enigmatic Elizabeth of old becomes a twenty four year old...
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Jul 23 2014

Workshopping the heart: New and selected poems by Jerri Kroll

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Wakefield Press, 2014. ISBN 9781743051283.
(Age: Upper secondary students) Well recommended. This caressing, probing, melodic and challenging volume of stream of consciousness poetry invites the reader to participate in the wealth of variety encompassed here. The subjects are wide and...
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Jul 23 2014

Supertato by Sue Hendra

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Simon and Schuster, 2014. ISBN 9780857074478.
(Age: 3-5) Recommended. Humour, Wordplay. Another in a line of books by Sue Hendra, using words as a ploy to make the readers laugh, will appeal to a younger audience, just coming to grips with language an its many uses and meanings. The...
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Jul 23 2014

Let's play by Gabriel Alborozo

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Allen & Unwin, 2014. ISBN 9781743316283.
(Ages: 2-8) Recommended. Picture book. Let's Play is a delightful introduction to many of the instruments that make up the orchestra. Hosted by a moustachioed, music loving maestro, a group of delighted children discover the sounds and...
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Jul 23 2014

Too hot for spots by Mini Goss

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Allen and Unwin, 2014. ISBN 9781743435410.
Recommended for children aged 3+. Too Hot for Spots is a lovely picture book with bright, real life photos to help tell the story.
Barry and Stella are dogs and in this story they are taking turns to be the doctor or the patient....
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Jul 22 2014

Big Sky Mind by Whitney Stewart

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Ill. by Sally Rippin. Windy Hollow Books, 2014. ISBN 9781922081339.
Recommended. Big Sky Mind, with its cover featuring an elephant and monkey, looks like another picture book and opens with these two animals obviously having had an argument sitting at either end of a garden...
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Jul 22 2014

Jumblecat by Archie Kimpton

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Ill. by Kate Hindley. Hot Key Books, 2014. ISBN 9781471402784.
(Age: 7-12) Recommended. Billy Slipper is an ordinary boy who finds an unusual pet. Add an extraordinary set of characters reminiscent of a Roald Dahl book, and the adventure begins.
Billy's mother is obsessed with dirt,...
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Jul 22 2014

The geography of you and me by Jennifer E. Smith

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Headline, 2014. ISBN 9781472206299.
Well recommended for upper secondary students. A cleverly contrived plot where the main characters are able to express their inner thoughts, which closely ally a reader's own view of the situation at the time. Lucy lives on the 24th floor of an...
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Jul 22 2014

Running on a Patchwork of Earth by Jonny Zucker

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Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN 9781472905345.
(Age: 8-11) It is not often that a sport such as middle distance running features in novels for 8-11 year olds. We may have to thank the Olympics for sparking the idea and giving us an insight to this sport and the reality that change brings new...
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Jul 22 2014

Adorable Alice by Cassandra Webb

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New Frontier Publishing, 2014. ISBN 9781921928017.
Adorable Alice is a beautiful picture book highly recommended for children aged 3+. Whether reading it with an adult or trying on their own, children will wonder at Alice, a young girl who explores her house by using her...
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Jul 22 2014

Howler by Michael Rosen and Neal Layton

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Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN 9781408846179.
(Age: Pre-school - Year 2) Have you ever considered what it must be like to follow a pregnancy through the eyes of the family pet? In this very funny take on a common situation, Dog introduces us to his pet girl, Rover and her family and provides a...
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Jul 18 2014

Waterfire saga: Deep blue by Jennifer Donnelly

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Hodder Children's Books, 2014. ISBN 9781444921182.
(Age: 11+) Recommended. Deep Blue is the first thrilling instalment in the Waterfire saga which follows the perilous adventure of six teenage mermaids are they endeavour to save their ocean home from an unknown terragogg enemy....
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Jul 18 2014

Chu's first day at school by Neil Gaiman

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Ill. Adam Rex. Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN 9781408847039.
(Age: 6+) Recommended. Picture book. School. Anxiety. A sequel to the highly successful, Chu's day, this book has the little bear going to school for the first time. He is anxious about making friends and fitting in. He is...
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Jul 18 2014

Fossil by Claire Ewart

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Walker, 2014. ISBN 9780802737373.
(Age: 6+) Recommended. Picture book. Fossils. Archaeology. First published in 2004, this is a handsome picture book. Claire Ewart once lived near a lake which had been dredged from a stream bed, so uncovering a myriad of pieces of brachiopods, mollusks...
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Jul 18 2014

Nowhere boys by Elise McCredie

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Hardie Grant Egmont, 2014. ISBN 9781760120160.
Recommended for middle years readers. Nowhere boys, which has been serialised for television, tells the story of four very different boys in Year 10 who become friends in difficult circumstances. Felix is a punk songwriter, Andy an...
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Jul 18 2014

Big pet day by Lisa Shanahan

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Ill. by Gus Gordon. Lothian, 2014. ISBN 9780734412416.
(Age: 5+) Recommended. School. Animals.
Each of the children in the class brings their pet to school for Pet Day. They are all excited, especially knowing that their principal, Mr Fisher will come in and judge whose pet is the...
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Jul 17 2014

While we run by Karen Healey

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When we wake Bk 2. Allen & Unwin, 2014. ISBN 9781743435458.
(Age 14+) Highly recommended. Science fiction. Dystopian. Following When we wake, this story looks at what life was like for Abdi Taalib and Tegan Oglietti, the girl who had died in 2027, frozen and...
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Jul 17 2014

Calypso Summer by Jared Thomas

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Magabala Books, 2014. ISBN 9781922142122.
(Ages: Mature senior secondary students) Kyle Summer is a young Nukunu man who lives near Henley Beach in Adelaide. He's known to all as Calypso because of his dreadlocks, love of Bob Marley and reggae music and the West Indies cricket team. His...
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Jul 17 2014

The edge of the water by Elizabeth George

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The edge of nowhere bk 2. Hodder & Stoughton, 2014. ISBN 9781444720013.
(Age: 14+) Mystery. Thriller. Supernatural. The sequel to The edge of nowhere finds Becca hiding from her stepfather in a location in the woods which Seth her close friend has helped her find. She...
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Jul 17 2014

Edward and the great discovery by Rebecca McRitchie and Celeste Hulme

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New Frontier, 2014. ISBN 9781925059007.
(Age: 6+) Recommended. Dinosaurs. Archaeology, Dodo.
All Edward wants to do is make a big discovery. After all his parents and grandparents have all made discoveries in their lives as archaeologists, and he expects to follow in their footsteps....
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Jul 17 2014

There's a lion in my cornflakes by Michelle Robinson

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Ill. Jim Field. Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN 9781408845608.
(Age: Preschool-Yr 2)This book starts in a most unusual way - a warning to ignore any messages the reader might see about collecting cereal packet coupons! And the warning is based on experience because after making umpteen trips to...
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Jul 15 2014

The Bow by Catherine Mayo

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Walker Books, 2014. ISBN: 9781925081015.
(Age: Year 8+) Recommended. Themes: Ancient Greece; Historical Epic drama; Adventure. Catherine Mayo has allied Ancient Greece with its Gods and heroes to a story of conflict, family honour and drama that is compelling even for readers that know...
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Jul 15 2014

Happy birthday Hugless Douglas by David Melling

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Hachette, 2014. ISBN 9781444913262.
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Birthdays, Twins. Hugless Douglas is really looking forward to his birthday and his birthday party. He is given a heap of presents by his many friends, and is eager to open them when his twin cousins appear with the biggest...
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Jul 15 2014

Shiverton Hall : the creeper by Emerald Fennel

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Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN 9781408827796.
The creepy and mysterious Shiverton Hall is a school with a reputation for being involved in horrific events over hundreds of years. The school and the surrounds of the aptly named village of Grimstone provide the setting for suspense and horror...
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Jul 15 2014

Pearlie goes to Rio by Wendy Harmer

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Ill. by Gypsy Taylor. Random House Australia Children's, 2014. ISBN: 9780857982162.
(Age: 6+) Highly recommended for newly independent readers, especially girls, from age 6 upwards. Hurly Burly! Pearlie is just in time for the World Cup! I think any of us who have seen our younger girls...
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Jul 15 2014

The Water Castle by Megan Frazer Blakemore

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Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN: 9780802735935.
(Ages: 11+) Contains some graphic and violent content with some supernatural themes. A story about a young boy named Ephraim Appledore-Smith who is related to the scientist Orlando Smith. Orlando...
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Jul 15 2014

The simple things by Bill Condon

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Allen & Unwin, 2014 ISBN 9781743317242.
(Age: 9+) Highly recommended. Family, Rural life. Going to visit an aunt many miles from the city is not what Steve wants to do, but his parents are concerned about her health and have not seen her for nine years. On arrival, he is told they...
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Jul 14 2014

Mutant city by Steve Feasey

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Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN 9781408843031.
(Ages: 13-15) Highly recommended. I really enjoyed this book which I read in three sittings and I highly recommend as an attractive read for reluctant boy readers particularly in years nine and ten. The subject matter, dystopian society and mutants...
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Jul 14 2014

Slaves of Socorro by John Flanagan

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Brotherband series. Random House Australia, 2014. ISBN 9781742759340.
(Age: 11+) Highly Recommended. Conflict. Adventure. Sailing. Heroism. Quests. Slaves of Socorro is the fourth book of the Brotherband series, and it is again a very engaging adventure involving a...
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Jul 14 2014

How to train your dragon by Cressida Cowell

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Little, Brown & Company, 2014. ISBN 9780316085274. Recommended for children aged 8-12. To become a Viking hero it was a tradition of the Hooligan Tribe to undertake the dreaded Dragon Initiation Programme. Failure meant banishment from the tribe forever.
The unremarkable Hiccup, the...
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Jul 14 2014

Captain Underpants and the revolting revenge of the radioactive robo-boxers by Dav Pilkey

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Scholastic Australia, 2014. ISBN 9781743621806
(Ages: 9+) Laugh out loud humour with FLIP-O-RAMA that allows you to animate the action.
Captain Underpants returns in his epic tenth novel with Mr Krupp who turns into Captain Underpants with the click of a finger. In this novel...
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