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 27 2015

Kerenza by Rosanne Hawke

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New Australian series. Scholastic, 2015 ISBN 9781742990606
(Age recommended Upper Primary and Lower Secondary students) The opportunity to farm their own land in Australia is the driving force behind Kerenza's poor family leaving Cornwall in 1911, to take up a selection in the South Australia's Mallee country. Kerenza knows little of what awaits, yet leaving her older sister, her Grandmother, friends and home causes her great distress.
Despite her misgivings, as an obedient and caring daughter, Kerenza tries hard to be positive, knowing that her parents depend upon her to assist with the endless work and caring for her younger siblings. Having an Uncle and cousins Jacob and Harry already living in Adelaide makes the transition slightly easier for the family as they work together to establish themselves in this strange new land. Kerenza however is confused and unimpressed by Jacob's unpleasant, taunting behaviour.
Even travelling to their new farm in the Swan Reach area is an arduous undertaking, with the possessions of two families carted on a heavily laden dray at walking pace. Upon arrival in the area, the men must fell trees to create a track just to gain access to their land grant where the real work of clearing mallee scrub must be completed before the crops can be sown.
Every aspect of daily life is difficult, from consuming limited foodstuffs cooked in a makeshift kitchen to struggling to maintain hygiene with limited water whilst living under canvas.
This simple story describes the everyday difficulties and trying circumstances faced by settlers attempting to survive under severe climatic conditions. A terrible drought ruins crops and would have destroyed the prospects of many migrants of the time, yet with fortitude, hard work and a great deal of luck, many prospered.
As often happens in historical fiction, the author assigns modern, progressive values and informed attitudes to certain characters which detracts from their authenticity. The tendency to do so is understandable however as it is necessary to foster less bigoted views on race relations, social welfare and environmental concerns in young readers.
The narrative style is refreshing with the author refraining from employing excessive and unnecessary drama in the presentation of rural life just prior to the First World War. This story is suitable for Upper Primary and Lower Secondary students.
Rob Welsh

More Reviews

May 27 2015

Onsie Mumsie! by Alice Rex

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Illus. by Amanda Francey. New Frontier Publishing, 2015. ISBN 9781925059243
(Age:3-6 years) We see them everywhere - the ubiquitous animal onsie. What young child today would not have one of their own? Penguin, tiger, bear, rabbit. . . the little girl in Onesie Mumsie has many! In fact,...
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May 27 2015

Mum goes to work by Libby Gleeson

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Ill. by Leila Rudge. Walker, 2015. ISBN 9781921529825 (Age: 3-6) Highly recommended. Subjects: Mothers, Women's Occupations, Family Life, Work life. It 's early morning. Everyone is arriving at the centre. The childcare centre is a noisy, bustling place as the children are dropped off and Mums...
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May 27 2015

Golden Boys by Sonya Hartnett

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Penguin, 2014. ISBN 9781926428611 Recommended for Adults, not a Young Adult novel. Themes: Family dysfunction; Poverty; Child abuse; Friendship; Bullying; Class issues. Note: Language issues - swearing. A story set in a working class suburb and populated with dysfunctional characters. Into this...
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May 27 2015

Cold, cold heart by Tami Hoag

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Orion Books, 2015. ISBN 9781409151951 (Age: secondary to adult) Highly recommended, Post Traumatic Shock Disorder, Brain injury, Crime. When Dana Nolan returns to the small rural town where she was brought up, she becomes embroiled in the increased media attention of the disappearance of her...
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May 26 2015

Bogtrotter by Margaret Wild

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Ill. by Judith Rossell. Walker Books, 2015. ISBN 9781921977558
(Age: Junior primary) Loneliness, Change, Horizons. Bogtrotter does the same thing every day. He wakes, runs over, around and up and down the bog all day then goes back to his cave. The next day is the same and the one after...
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May 26 2015

Cherry blossom dreams by Gwyneth Rees

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Bloomsbury, 2015. ISBN 9781408852637
(Age: 11-13) Themes: Family relationships; Grief and depression; Friendship; Coming-of-age. In Cherry Blossom Dreams a soon-to-be teenager narrates a family tale with complications. Sasha and her twin Sean are dealing with a potential new...
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May 26 2015

Ducks to water by Brett Avison

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Ill. by Janine Dawson. Five Mile Press, 2015. ISBN 9781760066062
(Age: All) Highly recommended. Bryn loves visiting Mum & Ted's farm, but this time there's a problem! The pond is dry, the big pipe is blocked with mud . . . how to unblock it and fill up the waterhole?
Meanwhile,...
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May 22 2015

A countess below stairs by Eva Ibbotson

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Speak, 2007. ISBN 9780142408650
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. Romance. Feel good book. The Russian aristocracy have been forced to flee abroad by the Russian Revolution. Anna Grazinsky, a young countess, has been left penniless and decides that she can no longer live with her English...
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May 22 2015

Billie's great desert adventure by Sally Rippin

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Ill. by Alisa Coburn. Billie's Super Dooper Adventures series. Hardie Grant Egmont, 2015. ISBN 9781760124434
(Age: 5-7) Recommended for fans of the Billie B series and as an introduction to the characters for younger children. In this picture book Billie is having a rainy...
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May 22 2015

Ben by Jack Townend

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V&A Publishing, 2015. ISBN 9781851778287
Jenny the jeep by Jack Townend
V&A Publishing, 2015. ISBN 9781851778294
(Age: junior primary) Recommended. Steamroller. Loneliness. War in England. Design. Ben the steamroller works well with his supervisor, Mr Dodie. He...
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May 22 2015

Meet Banjo Paterson by Kristin Weidenbach and James Gulliver Hancock

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Random House Australia Children's, 2015. ISBN 9780857980083
The picture book series of Meet... has been extraordinarily successful in bringing the biographies of outstanding Australians to younger readers. Taking simple information and presenting it in a very accessible text...
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May 22 2015

Thank you: Cheeky monkey manners by Lisa Kerr

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Five Mile Press, 2015. ISBN 9781760067212
(Age: 1-3) Manners. This is a short board book suited for under 3 year olds to teach the simple courtesy of saying 'Thank you'. The cheeky monkey does not realise that the 'magic words' that his Grandma needs, and that he is sent to seek are the...
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May 21 2015

Wendy and the wallpaper cat by Jason Hook

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Ill. by Ilaria Demonti. Bloomsbury, 2015. ISBN 9781851778300
(Age: Junior primary) Highly recommended. Art and design. Sleeping. Bedtime. Grandparents. When Wendy cannot sleep, her parents decide to take her to see Grandpa Walter. She has never visited his house before, and cannot help...
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May 21 2015

The monster within by Darrell Pitt

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A Jack Mason adventure Book 4. Text Publishing, 2015. ISBN 9781922182876
(Age: 9-12) Recommended. Victorian London. Steampunk Fiction. Detectives. Mysteries. Kaboom! The streets of London are filled with people shopping, walking and enjoying the first day of summer when an...
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May 21 2015

Our baby by Margaret Wild

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Ill. by Karen Blair. Working Title Press, 2015. ISBN 9781921504785
(Age: 0-4) Recommended. Babies (Human). Families. Siblings. Brothers and sisters. Our baby is an observance of families, all sorts, nuclear, with two mums or two dads and those that live together or live apart. The...
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May 21 2015

Clementine Rose and the movie magic by Jacqueline Harvey

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Random House Australia, 2015. ISBN 9780857985187
The avid Clementine Rose in your library crowd will eagerly pounce on No #9 in this sweet series. This latest adventure sees the beginning of next door neighbour Basil's film documentary about Penberthy House - of course, starring...
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May 20 2015

Don't think about purple elephants by Susan Whelan

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Ill. by Gwynneth Jones. Exisle Publishing, 2015. ISBN 9781921966699
(Age: 4-8) Highly recommended. Subjects: Anxiety, Worry, Overcoming Fear, Bedtime, Family Life, Psychology. Susan Whelan draws from her own family experiences with a young daughter who was anxious about bedtime, when all...
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May 20 2015

A single stone by Meg McKinlay

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Walker Books, 2015. ISBN 9781925081701
(Age: 13+) Recommended. An island . . . a valley . . . a village . . . a completely isolated civilization with strange customs and beliefs to rationalize survival. Jena is a young girl, barely a teenager, but she leads an elite group of petite girls...
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May 20 2015

Hop up! Wriggle over! by Elizabeth Honey

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Allen & Unwin, 2015. ISBN 9781743319987
(Age: Early childhood) Recommended. Australian Animals, Bed time, Daily activities. Nine bouncing baby Australian animals roll across each of the pages in this enchanting look at the activities a family undertakes during a day. From getting up...
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May 18 2015

Kookoo Kookaburra by Gregg Dreise

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Magabala Books, 2015. ISBN 9781921248900
(Age: 4-8) Highly recommended. Themes: Aboriginal peoples - Dreaming, Kookaburras, Kindness, Gentleness. 'Kindness is like a boomerang - if you throw it often, it comes back often.'
Greg Dreise's second morality tale Kookoo kookaburra...
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May 18 2015

Tilly's big problem by Rose Stanley

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Ill. by Lisa Allen. Starfish Bay Publishing, 2014. ISBN 9780994100306
(Age:(for children under 8). Recommended. Themes: Problems; Counselling; Social and emotional development; Problem Solving; Peer support. Tilly has a problem so big that she is unable to deal with it on her own. Her...
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May 18 2015

Lifespan of Starlight by Thalia Kalkipsakis

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Hardie Grant Egmont, 2015. ISBN: 9781742978710
(Age: 15+) Scout, Mason and Bloc live in the future, 2084. It is a world where most humans are microchipped. With a microchip the human has access to food, water, accommodation and travel. All travel, food and water is monitored and...
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