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 24 2018

When the mountains roared by Jess Butterworth

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Hachette, 2018. ISBN 9781510102118
(Ages 9-12) Highly recommended. Themes: Grief. Fear. Wildlife conservation. India - Family life.
Jess Butterworth drew inspiration for When the mountains roared from her own family stories, her grandparents' travels to India in the 1960s and her own childhood experiences living with them at the foot of the Himalayas. She descriptively captures the sensory experiences, the diverse sights and sounds, cityscapes and countryside and wildlife encounters. Her understandings of the Indian way of life resonate here. The imprint of the leopard, from the roaring white silhouette and the rich yellow and brown markings of the covers that continue as bold chapter headings, set the scene for her message of wildlife conservation.
Coping with the death of her mother, Ruby is overcome by her fears, afraid of the dark, of travelling by car, going to sleep and not waking up in the morning. She lives with her father and grandmother in Western Australia in a rural hotel which has fallen into disrepair and her father has borrowed money from loan sharks to save the property. Desperate to escape from their problems they abandon their home, take only a few possessions, their collie dog Polly, and drive through the night to Perth. Along the way they collect a baby joey which Nan hides in her luggage.
Nan's afraid of flying so they board a cruise ship bound for India. Their tiring journey finally brings them to the bottom of the Himachal Pradesh and a haunted mountain. Life for the family is confronting, their new hotel needs a large amount of work, with the owners involved in wildlife poaching. Ruby captures photos of the beautiful world around the hotel; she is an observer, listening to secret conversations and trailing her father's employers. There are moments of fun and laughter, the colourful Holi festival, caring for Joey, watching Bollywood films, making friends with Praveen and dancing to Bollywood music with Dad and Nan.
Ruby's bravery in tracking the poachers, searching for the elusive leopard, attests to her strength of character, overcoming her fears and grief. With her Grandma and loyal friend Praveen they embark on a treacherous journey into the mountains, each show courage in the face of danger. The resolution brings both closure and hope for the future, the author concluding with a heartfelt message about the need to conserve and protect native wildlife and the risk of invasive species taking over the natural environment.
When the mountains roared is a beautifully crafted story, where each of the main characters comes to terms with the loss of a loved one, and is an emotive journey amongst the beauty and splendour of the Himalayan foothills. Share this with a middle primary class, explore the detailed and descriptive narrative, the insightful poignant journey Ruby undertakes, then research the endangered wildlife and the impact of the poaching trade.
Rhyllis Bignell



More Reviews

May 24 2018

The price guide to the occult by Leslye Walton

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Candlewick Press 2018. ISBN 9780763691103
(Age: 14+) Recommended for people with an interest in mental health and magic. TW: This novel contains self-harm. This is certainly a novel that would be difficult to walk past, The price guide to the occult is both loud and distracting...
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May 24 2018

Missing Marvin by Sue deGennaro

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Scholastic, 2018. ISBN 9781742769509
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Themes: Bullying. Practical jokes. Feelings. When Marvin finds his friends' jokes are just too much, he goes missing, so it is up to the friends to find him, reassure him, and for Marvin to say how he feels when they...
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May 24 2018

Spot goes to the swimming pool by Eric Hill

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Puffin Books, 2018. ISBN 9780241327074
(Age 1-4) Highly recommended. Board book. Themes: Swimming. Fear. A delightful way to introduce the idea of swimming at a swimming pool to very young children, this board book is sure to be a hit with its intended audience. Spot is a bit nervous...
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May 24 2018

Best buds under frogs by Leslie Patricelli

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Candlewick Press, 2018. ISBN 9780763651046
(Age: 8+) Recommended. Themes: Friendship. School. Moving from the city to Pine Lake where she must catch a bus to school, Lily is apprehensive, and barfing on the first day does not endear her to the group of friends who had assembled around...
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May 24 2018

The Lily and the Rose by Jackie French

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HarperCollins, 2017. ISBN 9781460753590
(Age: 15+) Highly recommended. The Great War is over but that doesn't necessarily equate to peace. Sophie Higgs is soon to come to this realisation as she re-establishes her life in Australia, taking over her late father's business empire as an...
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May 22 2018

The old man by Sarah V and Claude K Dubois

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Gecko Press, 2018. ISBN 9781776571918
(Age: 5+) Highly recommended. Themes: Compassion. Homelessness. Paris. Age. This gem of understatement stopped me in my tracks and I'm sure it will for everyone as they read of the plight of one homeless old man.
A young girl wakes and gets...
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May 22 2018

The disturbed girl's dictionary by Nonieqa Ramos

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Lerner Publishing Group, 2018. ISBN 9781512439762
(Age: 14+) Recommended.
Macy Cashmere is a teenager living in the ghetto trying to survive life the best she can. Her father is in prison, her mother entertains a constant stream of male 'guests' and her little brother has been taken...
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May 22 2018

The long class goodnight by Sammy J

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Five Mile Press, 2018. ISBN 9781760409531
(Age: 9-12) Recommended.
Sammy J, comedian, musician and author takes us on a whirlwind ride in his debut novel The long class goodnight. Imagine if the school bell doesn't ring at the end of the first day and the students of Mount...
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May 22 2018

Found in Melbourne, a counting adventure by Joanne O'Callaghan

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Ill. by Kori Song. Allen and Unwin, 2018. ISBN 9781760523411
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Themes: Melbourne. Numbers. Also published in Simplified Chinese, this book about Melbourne reflects the visitor's eye looking at a new place, using a map to find their way around, visiting the iconic...
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May 22 2018

I am Sasha by Anita Selzer

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Penguin Books, 2018. ISBN 9780143785743
(Age: 13+) Highly recommended. Themes: Holocaust. Identity. Survival. Resilience. Born in Poland before the Second World War, Sasha lived on his own with his mother after his father's early death. This sadness was not the only difficulty that he...
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May 22 2018

Uncle Gobb and the Green Heads by Michael Rosen

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Bloomsbury, 2018. ISBN 9781408851340
(Age: 7-9)
Uncle Gobb is that really annoying relative who's overstayed his welcome. Poor Malc and his mother have to endure his constant roaring, his interfering ways and his opinions about everything from learning history, to poetry and...
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May 17 2018

Amelia Westlake by Erin Gough

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Hardie Grant Egmont, 2018. ISBN 9781760127152
(Age: Senior secondary - Adult) Highly recommended. Themes: Romance. LGBT. Young adult. Contemporary drama. Australia. High school. Sydney, Australia, in 2016, is set for all to see in this brilliant new age novel by Erin Gough. This story...
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May 17 2018

Alma and how she got her name by Juana Martinez-Neal

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Candlewick Press, 2018. ISBN 9780763693558
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Themes: Ancestors. Family. Names. Upset over her very long name, Alma questions her father about why she has been given a name that doesn't fit on her page. He then explains, showing her where each of her names...
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May 17 2018

The Paris seamstress by Natasha Lester

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Hachette, 2018. ISBN 9780733640001
(Age: 16+) Recommended.
In 1940, young Parisian Estella Bissette finds herself unwittingly drawn to help a dying man, and becomes the courier of secret plans to the French resistance. She passes them to a dark mysterious stranger, a spy, in an...
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May 17 2018

Trouble at school by Chris Higgins, illustrated by Emily McKenzie

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Bloomsbury, 2018. ISBN 9781408868850
(Age: 6+) Recommended.
Themes: School stories. Friendship. Problem children.
Chris Higgins brings best friends Bella and Magda back in Trouble at school an amusing story about first days, dealing with a new teacher and difficult...
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May 17 2018

Oma's buttons by Tania Ingram and Jennifer Harrison

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Penguin Viking, 2018. ISBN 9780143786573
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Themes: Buttons. Memories. Grandparents. Family life. Sharing. While playing hide and seek at Oma's place, Ruthie comes across a small tin under her grandmother's bed.
Asking what the buttons are for, Oma tells her that...
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May 17 2018

Fearless Frederic by Felice Arena

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Penguin, 2018. ISBN 9780143786757
(Age: 9-14) Recommended.
Themes: Courage. Paris. Floods. Friendship. Adventure.
Frederic's father would like him to develop his boxing and sparring skills. Who knows where this will lead? But Frederic is not sure. Does he just lack the fighting...
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May 15 2018

Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

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Pan MacMillan, 2018. ISBN 9781760555504
(Age: 12+) Recommended. Fantasy. The Queen is dead, the people have been enslaved, and princess Theodosia might as well be too. Confined to a pretty jail and watched constantly by three men, her shadows, since the castle was taken ten years before,...
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May 15 2018

Growing up Aboriginal in Australia edited by Anita Heiss

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Black Inc, 2018. ISBN 9781863959810
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended.
This is a collection of short stories that can easily be picked up and read whenever there is a spare moment - they are life stories drawn from around Australia, from different walks of life, but all with a...
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May 15 2018

Rory Branagan detective by Andrew Clover and Ralph Lazar

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HarperCollins, 2018. ISBN 9780008265830
(Age: 8+) "Hello. I am Rory Branagan. I am actually a detective.
People always say, 'How do you become a detective?'
And I say, 'Ahhhh... you don't just FIND YOURSELF suddenly sneaking up on baddies, or diving out of the way as they shoot,...
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May 15 2018

Car, car, truck, jeep by Katrina Charman

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Ill. by Nick Sharratt. Bloomsbury, 2018. ISBN 9781408864968
(Age: 3-5) Recommended. Themes: Cars. Rhyming story. Sing along. Read aloud, Nursery rhyme. Machines. Sung to the tune of 'Baa baa black sheep', this funny story will delight its younger readers, listeners and singers. In bright...
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May 15 2018

Wild asparagus, wild strawberries by Barbara Santich

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Wakefield Press, 2018. ISBN 9781743055335
(Age: Adult) Recommended.
Food writer and historian Barbara Santich recounts her experience as a young mother of twins, moving to France with her husband in the 1970s and then immersing themselves in French village life. Brave enough to do...
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May 15 2018

The super life of Ben Braver by Marcus Emerson

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Allen & Unwin, 2018. ISBN 9781760631680
(Age: 8-10)
Themes: Boarding schools. Heroes. Bullying. Courage
Marcus Emerson, author of the popular 'Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja' introduces us to a new sarcastic superhero sixth-grader Ben Braver. After a boring summer hanging out in...
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May 15 2018

Lessons of a LAC by Lynn Jenkins and Kirrili Lonergan

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EK Books, 2018. ISBN 9781925335828
In one village on one side of the mountains live the LACs - Little Anxious Children who constantly look for danger and who only have negative self-talk; in another village on the other side of the mountains live their enemies the Calmsters who can take...
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May 10 2018

Mun Mun by Jesse Andrews

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Allen & Unwin, 2018. ISBN 9781760523596
(Age: 14+) Recommended.
In the world of Yewess, your size is directionally proportional to your wealth. Warner and his sister Prayer are littlepoor, the poorest you can get. They face the dangers that bigger people just don't have to think...
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May 10 2018

Piecing me together by Renee Watson

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Bloomsbury, 2017. ISBN 9781681191058
(Age: Young Adult) For Jade, a young black woman living in New York who attends a school that offers specific help to students, particularly financial help for those who need it, the final years of high school are pivotal to her future. She has to...
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May 10 2018

My Australia by Julie Murphy

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Ill. by Garry Flaming. NLA Publishing, 2018. ISBN 9780642279163
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. "My Australia is a poetic journey across the Australian landscape. Celebrating both the ancient and modern Australia, the book invites readers to travel across the delights of our continent -...
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May 10 2018

How to win a Nobel Prize by Barry Marshall and Lorna Hendry

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Piccolo Nero, 2018. ISBN 9781760640064
(Age: 8-12) Recommended. Themes: Science - History. Nobel Prizes. Science experiments. Imagine travelling through time to meet eleven famous scientists who have won Nobel Prizes. Young scientist Mary loves to undertake science experiments at home...
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May 10 2018

The Popeye murder by Sandra Winter-Dewhirst

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A Rebecca Keith mystery, book 1. Wakefield Press, 2018. ISBN 9781743055236
(Age: Adult) Recommended. Themes: Mystery. Food. Adelaide. Rebecca Keith is a food editor and is invited to many restaurants and dinners as part of her job. When one of the Adelaide's top chefs is murdered...
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May 10 2018

Head, shoulders, knees and toes ill. by Matt Shanks

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Scholastic Australia, 2018. ISBN 9781760276942
(Age: 3+) Recommended. This book is the traditional song of 'Head, shoulders, knees and toes' with a slight variation. It is a fun variation including tail, scales, claws and paws. The illustrations add to the fun of the book.
All of...
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May 08 2018

Dad by my side by Soosh

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Lothian Children's Books, 2018. ISBN 9780734418739
(Age: 3+) Highly recommended. Themes: Fathers. Daughters. Relationships. Family. Love. The most beautiful watercolour illustrations demonstrate from page one the loving relationship between a father and his daughter. Dad is depicted as a...
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May 08 2018

The Fandom by Anna Day

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Chicken House, 2018. ISBN 9781910655672
(Age: Older teens - YA) Note on book: Not suitable for younger readers. Anyone in any fandom's greatest dream is to be transported into the canon world of their favourite story and live out the events as the main character. Maybe except for fans of...
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May 08 2018

These are animals by Daniel Egneus

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Bloomsbury, 2018. ISBN 9781408889909
(Age: 3+) Highly recommended. Animals. Humour. Read aloud. Movement. Sound. What a lovely way to introduce animals to young readers. A vibrant, colourful display of animals around the world is presented with verve and movement, noises and sounds for...
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May 08 2018

A royal murder by Sandra Winter-Dewhirst

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A Rebecca Keith mystery book 2. Wakefield Press, 2018. ISBN 9781743055243
(Age: Adult) Recommended. Themes: Mystery. Murder. Adelaide. During the Women's Australian Open golf tournament in Adelaide, Rebecca Keith discovers a silk duffle bag containing the body of one of...
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May 08 2018

The case of the missing hippo by Laura James

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Ill. by Emily Fox. Fabio: The world's greatest flamingo detective series, book 1. Bloomsbury, 2018. ISBN 9781408889312
(Age: 6-9) Highly recommended. Themes: Detective story. Animal tale. This is a 'classic' detective story involving the great Flamingo Detective, Fabio. He is an...
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May 08 2018

A pet called Nibbles by Zanni Louise

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Ill. by Gillian Flint. Tiggy and the magic paintbrush. Five Mile, 2018. ISBN 9781760680411
(Age: 5-6) Themes: Magic. Pet Day. School. Tiggy does not have a pet for pet day, but she does have a secret magic paintbrush in her sock. She creates a magic pet - a small dragon, called...
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May 03 2018

I do not like books anymore by Daisy Hirst

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Walker Books, 2018. ISBN 9781406369137
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Themes: Books and reading. Learning to read. Cooperation. Natalie and Alphonse love to read together. Dad reads them picture books, Mum reads them scary stories, Grandma tells them stories about the terrible shrew. And they...
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May 03 2018

Bronte's big sister problem by Mary Van Reyk

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Surf Riders Club. Lothian Children's Books, 2018. ISBN 9780734417923
(Age: 9+) Recommended. Bronte is in Year 8 and really idolises her sister Carrie, who is 17. Before their older brother, Oscar, left for University, the three siblings had such a close friendship and now it...
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May 03 2018

Hubert Wilkins: Forgotten hero by Elizabeth Corfe

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Era Publications, 2011. ISBN 9781741205114
(Age: Upper primary) Hubert Wilkins is probably not well known to Australian students although he was born in South Australia in 1888 and was quite famous in the 1920s. This biography written for upper primary age students highlights Wilkins'...
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May 03 2018

My grandfather's war by Glynn Harper

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Ill. by Jenny Cooper. EK Books, 2018. ISBN 9781775592990
My grandfather's war tells us of a more recent conflict, the Vietnam War, a war where those who served are now the grandparents of its target audience, our primary school students.
At a time when the world had almost...
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May 02 2018

Sorry Day by Coral Vass and Dub Lefler

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NLA Publishing, 2018. ISBN 9780642279033
(Age: 6+) Highly recommended. Themes: Aboriginal themes, Sorry Day, Aboriginal history, Reconciliation, Apology, Kevin Rudd. Two stories coincide in this beautifully illustrated picture book telling of National Sorry Day celebrated on May 26. The...
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May 02 2018

Turtle Trackers by Samantha Wheeler

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UQP, 2018. ISBN 9780702259951
(Age: 9-12) Recommended. Ten year old Isaac lives with his widowed mother in a caravan park in seaside Queensland. They are the park caretakers and the huge workload impacts on their lives, ensuring Isaac has very little free time during his holidays. His...
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May 02 2018

Being Fishkill by Ruth Lehrer

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Candlewick Books, 2018. ISBN 9780763684426
(Age: Mature14+) Being Fishkill focusses on 12-year-old Carmel Fishkill who is named after a highway exit sign her mother, Keely, glimpsed while giving birth in the back seat of a car. Her life is complex and she decides that starting...
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May 02 2018

Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn

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John Joseph Adams/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017. ISBN 9780544947306
(Age: 15+) Recommended. Philip K. Dick Award (2017). Themes: Dystopian fiction, Science fiction, Murder, Birth control. Years after an environmental disaster has...
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May 02 2018

Fantastically great women who made History by Kate Pankhurst

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Bloomsbury, 2018, ISBN 9781408878897
(Age: 8-12) Recommended. Subjects: Women - History, Women - Biography. Fantastically Great Women Who Made History looks at the lives, discoveries and achievements of many important women from Hatshepsut in Ancient Egypt to Russian astronaut...
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May 02 2018

Wildcat Run by Sonya Spreen Bates

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Ill. by Kasia Charko. Orca Book Publishers, 2018. ISBN 9781554698301
(Age: 6+) Tommy, Jake and Lexie are on the slopes. The cousins have been skiing for a week, but Jake's Dad twisted his knee on the last run and had agreed they could do one more run, provided they stick to the easy...
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May 02 2018

Bird builds a nest by Martin Jenkins

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A Science Storybook about Forces. Ill. by Richard Jones. Walker Books, 2018. ISBN 9781406355130
(Ages: 3-7) Highly recommended. Themes: Forces, Push and Pull. In the front matter we are given a brief introduction to forces: "This is a book about forces. A force is something that...
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May 01 2018

P is for Pearl by Eliza Henry Jones

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HarperCollins, 2018. IBSN 9781460754931
(Age: Senior secondary - Adult) Recommended. Themes: Teen romance. Grief. Friendship. Mental illness. Family. In a small coastal country town lives 17-year-old Gwendolyn P. Pearson, a young lady who is still struggling with the sudden death of her...
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May 01 2018

Can I touch your hair? by Irene Latham and Charles Waters

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Carolrhoda Books, 2018. ISBN 9781512404425
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. This book is a collection of poems written by Irene who is white and Charles who is black. These poems delve into the differences related to race, mistakes, friendship even hair.
Can I touch your hair?...
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May 01 2018

Paris Syndrome by Lisa Walker

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HarperCollins, 2018. ISBN 9781460755242
(Age: Adolescent) This seemingly light-hearted story, as adolescent fiction, touches on important aspects of the decisions of young people who are becoming aware of themselves and their role in the world. Covering fantasy, dreams, sexual awakening...
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May 01 2018

My trip to the supermarket: Activity and sticker book by Samantha Meredith

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Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2018. ISBN 9781408883686
(Age: 4+) Recommended. "Work your way around the supermarket and discover all the amazing things you can buy! Find your way through the maze of aisles to the checkout counter, count how many loaves of bread are in the baker 's basket,...
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