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

Dec 12 2017

Soon by Lois Murphy

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Transit Lounge, 2017. ISBN 9780995409804
(Age: Senior secondary - Adult) This is a deceptively complex and very interesting book. While it seems, initially, to be about magic, the real magic is the writer's subtle critique of the modern world. Here we have simple days, calm, quiet, idyllic almost but surely normal and predictable, in the Western Australian country town of Nebulah. Yet the nights reveal the screams, the mist that becomes figures that haunt the townspeople and force them to flee, killing anyone who is not locked into their houses.
As the residents leave, the few remaining characters, who cannot afford to leave, come together in a way that reflects the ancient notion of human beings working together to survive, offering shared toil and kindness - qualities that we come to see as lacking in the world outside of the small country town.
So, as the story progresses, we come to see that this wonderfully constructed narrative is perhaps not just about a weird, destructive and vengeful wind and strange beings. Rather than simply being about the paranormal, this beautifully written book is about the ephemeral, ghosts in a sense, in a story that reflects the ills of the modern world, the greed, the competitive nature of human beings who have lost, in that strange 'mist' of time, the ideas of loving friendship, collaboration, support, neighbourliness or simple goodness. Deftly constructed, Murphy's world reveals its true spirit as the narrative progresses, and we are slowly made aware of the failings of the modern world, the sadness and greed that poison friendships and families.
Considering that a nebulah is defined as a massive cloud of dust in space, so the name of the town, Nebulah, aptly reflects the winds and dust that haunt one little town, in an area of Western Australia where the events of this novel take place. It seems vengeful, rather than merely circumstantial, this wind and beings of destruction, that wreaks havoc, and as time passes, its haunting seems to abate.
This is a powerfully constructed novel that is thought-provoking and challenging, yet it is not about fear so much as it is about facing up to the reality of the modern world, considering who we are as individuals cooperatively sharing our little worlds with others, ultimately thinking about what we do, what we say and how we treat others. It is most suitable for older students, especially those who would respond to the challenge, about how we live in our world today, that Lois Murphy presents.
Liz Bondar



More Reviews

Dec 12 2017

Slowly! Slowly! by T.M. Clark and Helene Magisson

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Wombat Books, 2017. ISBN 9781925563221
(Age: 3-6) Recommended. Themes: Monkeys, Patience, Resilience, Compassion. Bongani is a little boy who desperately wants to go to school, but he is too young. Adapted from a South African saying, "Softly, softly, catchee monkey", Slowly!...
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Dec 12 2017

Merry Christmas from The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

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Puffin, 2017. ISBN 9780141388281
Fans of The Very Hungry Caterpillar will like this small-format book from Eric Carle despite its northern hemisphere focus. While the Very Hungry Caterpillar doesn't play an active role in the story, he does appear on each page sharing the precepts...
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Dec 12 2017

Rockabye Pirate by Timothy Knapman and Ada Grey

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Bloomsbury, 2017. ISBN 9781408849392
A-haarr! It's always difficult to get busy pirates to hang up their peg legs, cutlasses and eyepatches at the end of another eventful day of adventures on the high seas. But even bloodthirsty Sea Dog McPhail, Black Bearded Brewster and the others have...
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Dec 12 2017

Refugee boy by Benjamin Zephaniah

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Bloomsbury, 2017. ISBN 9781408894996
(Age: 13+) On the disputed border of the African countries Eritrea and Ethiopia, armed militants from both sides terrorise villagers for being from the other nation. Teenager Alem has an Ethiopian father and an Eritrean mother and his family literally...
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Dec 12 2017

The bum book by Kate Mayes

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Ill. by Andrew Joyner. Harper Collins, 2017. ISBN 9780733332197
(Ages 2-7) Themes: Bottoms. This is a fun book chock full of bums, bums, nothing but bums. Queen bum, horsey bum, had too much sun bum, let's all leave the room bum, wobbly bum... Bums of all shapes, sizes, colours and...
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Dec 11 2017

A cold case in Amsterdam Central by Anja de Jager

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Constable, 2017. ISBN 9781472120649
(Age: Secondary to adult) Recommended. Themes: Crime. Amsterdam. Cold case. World War Two. Sympathisers. This is a wonderful concoction of a crime thriller set in a totally different environment, Amsterdam, with its canals, polders and...
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Dec 11 2017

Ultimate Lego Star Wars

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DK, 2017. ISBN 9780241288443
(Ages: 8+) In 1999 the first LEGO Star Wars sets were released and since then the collaboration has continued to grow. This is a definitive, unrivalled encyclopaedic guide to every LEGO Star Wars minifigure or set ever produced. Each of the three main...
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Dec 11 2017

The birthday invitation by Lucy Rowland and Laura Hughes

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Bloomsbury, 2017. ISBN 9781408862995
(Age: Junior primary) Recommended. Who would believe that losing just one birthday invitation could lead to such surprising results? Who will catch the invitation that Ella dropped? A wizard, a princess, even a pilot flying high above.
Planning a...
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Dec 11 2017

Pick a pine tree by Patricia Toht

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Ill. by Jarvis. Walker Books, 2017. ISBN 9781406360608
"Pick a pine tree from the lot -
Slim and tall or short and squat.
Long, straight limbs
Or branches bent . . . .
Mmm! Just smell that piney scent!" Publisher
I absolutely loved this picture book. It bought...
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Dec 11 2017

A Christmas wish by Beatrix Potter

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Puffin, 2017. ISBN 9780241291757
Board book. It's Christmas Eve and Peter Rabbit and his sisters are excited, but Peter is worried too. They have all wished for a special present but Peter can't sleep, and he knows Father Christmas won't visit if he's still awake. As the hours drag by...
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Dec 11 2017

The Dollmaker of Krakow by R M Romero

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Walker Books, 2017. ISBN 9781406375633
(Age: 10+) "In the land of dolls, there is magic.
In the land of humans, there is war.
Everywhere there is pain.
But together there is hope."
Karolina is a living doll whose king and queen have been overthrown. But when a strange...
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Dec 11 2017

Stanley's playing the trumpet! by John Field

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Ill. by Tull Suwannakit. Book+CD. Scholastic, 2017. ISBN 9781743815892
(Ages: 3-6) Themes: Musical instruments, talent. This is a musical story about Stanley, a rhino who practises and practises but can't quite get the hang of playing the trumpet. It isn't until he gets the urge to play...
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Dec 11 2017

The Bolton Boys' balloon adventure and other stories: Sound Stories by Barbara Murray

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An Introduction to Consonant Sounds: Part 1. Ill. by Sarah Hardy. Little Steps Publishing, 2017. ISBN 9781925545074
(Ages: 4-6) Themes: Phonemic Awareness, Synthetic Phonics. This has been written by the co-author of the Sound Waves resources, which teach spelling and reading...
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Dec 11 2017

Big Bash League series by Michael Panckridge

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Random House Australia, 2017
Academy smash. ISBN 9780143782278
Championship Dash. ISBN 9780143782292
Representative Clash. ISBN 9780143782315
Carnival Clash. ISBN 9780143782339
Just in time for the cricket season come four additions to...
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Dec 08 2017

I hate everyone but you by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin

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Allen and Unwin, 2017. ISBN 9781760631482
(Age: 16+) Highly recommended. A modern coming-of-age novel written through a series of emails and text messages, I hate everyone but you tells the story of best friends Ava and Gen, who are starting their first year of college on opposite...
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Dec 08 2017

The start of me and you by Emery Lord

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Bloomsbury 2017. ISBN 9781408888377
(Age: 12+) Recommended. A new year, a new plan, a new start. Grief is hard, no matter what, but it can be more complex when you're grieving for someone you hardly knew. Paige's first boyfriend died in a swimming accident leaving her to deal with her...
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Dec 08 2017

Ali-A adventures. Game on by Alastair Aiken and Cavan Scott

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Lead artist: Aleksandar Sotinovski. Puffin Books, 2017. ISBN 9780141388168
(Age: Primary - Lower secondary) Recommended. Themes; computer games, aliens, superheroes. Ali-A is attending a gaming convention with his dog, Eevie and partner Clare, reporting to his online fan base of gamers....
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Dec 08 2017

Year One by Nora Roberts

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Chronicles of The One book 1. Piatkus, 2017. ISBN 9780349414942
(Age: Adult - 16+) Dystopian fiction. Pandemics. A deadly pandemic sweeps through the world, leaving devastation in its trail. Billions die and amongst those who are left rise people with magical abilities. Lana, a...
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Dec 08 2017

Miss Lily's Lovely Ladies by Jackie French

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HarperCollins, 2017. ISBN 9781460753583
(Age: 15+) Highly recommended. A tale of espionage, love and passionate heroism. Inspired by true events, this is the story of how society's 'lovely ladies' won a war.
Young Sophie Higgs has grown up a privileged girl being the only child of...
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Dec 08 2017

Father Christmas's Fake Beard by Terry Pratchett

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Doubleday, 2017. ISBN 9780857535504
Christmas and Christmas stories are a little bit different in the mind and hands of master storyteller Terry Pratchett. Instead of the usual, sometimes twee, tales of reindeer, helpful elves and generous children this collection has a huge exploding...
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Dec 08 2017

Facing the flame by Jackie French

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The Matilda Saga bk 7. HarperCollins, 2017. ISBN 9781460753200
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. I didn't need to re-read the last in the series to be utterly enthralled by this latest right from the get-go. In fact, this was a complete binge, read in one night because it was just...
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Dec 06 2017

This mortal coil by Emily Suvada

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Penguin 2017. ISBN 9780141379272
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. When the plague breaks out and all hell breaks loose Cat thinks she is safe enough living with her father, a genius gene-hacker, and his assistant, Dex. But everything changes when Cartaxus, the organisation responsible for...
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Dec 06 2017

Little dog and the summer holiday by Corinne Fenton

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Ill. by Robin Cowcher. Black Dog Books, 2017. ISBN 9781925381160
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Themes: Holidays. Summer. Animals. Journeys. Caravans. A wonderful caravan holiday is anticipated as the family sets out from Melbourne headed for Sydney in the 1960's. With Dad at the wheel of...
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Dec 06 2017

The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid by Colin Meloy

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Ill. by Carson Ellis. Penguin Viking Books, 2017. ISBN 9780143787860
(Age: 8+) Charlie Fisher Junior, the son of an American diplomat, is on a semi-permanent vacation in Marseilles. His Mother, Sieglinde Duhrer, tired of being a mother and desiring to pursue her acting career, suggests...
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Dec 06 2017

Kids like us by Hilary Reyl

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Text Publishing, 2017. ISBN 9781925498912
(Age: Older teens - adults) Themes: Autism. Relationships. Family. Friendships. French setting. Martin's mother is directing a movie set in a French Chateau, the family have rented a small cottage for the summer and Martin is attending the local...
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Dec 04 2017

I went to see Santa by Paul Howard

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Bloomsbury, 2017. ISBN 9781408844724
It's a classic scenario of little ones and their need to be just that bit better than their friend. So when the little girl announces that she went to see Santa and got a pair of Christmas glasses, her friend says well he not only got Christmas...
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Dec 01 2017

First day by Margaret Wild

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Ill. by Kim Gamble. Allen and Unwin, 2017. ISBN 9781760293918
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Themes: First day at school, School, Friendship, Family. First published in 1998, this welcome reprint will resonate with all readers, those about to being school as well as those who recall the...
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Sep 13 2017

Literature to Support the Australian Curriculum Book 2 - Annotated Lists of Fiction and Poetry by Fran Knight and Pat Pledger

cover imagePledger Consulting, 2017. ISBN 9781876678531
Highly recommended. This book contains literature to support the Australian Curriculum. It contains annotated lists that cover...
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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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