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 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 what she wants to do or where she wants to go. Biding time and wanting to earn some money while she decides, Amber does a three month training as a carer for the elderly and is able to secure a job in the local nursing home. Tranquil Banks (or Tranquil Blanks to locals) has only been open for a year and so the facility has been a welcome addition to the community and people are happy knowing their elderly residents are being cared for by professionals.
However, Amber shortly realises that the philosophy of the facility's owner/manager Mrs Ingersoll is not always aligned to the best interests of her senior citizen residents - nor is she supportive or even appreciative of her hard-working staff.
Amber enjoys the work and is very capable and compassionate with her charges but is baffled by both their references to a mysterious 'Jack' and then her own meeting with this strange boy who looks like he's from another place and time. As is revealed, Jack is indeed from another time, having suffered at a tragic accident at the very same location of the new Tranquil Banks over eighty years previously.
When Amber's much-loved elderly neighbour Vera is unwillingly forced into the nursing home by her family, it is Amber and Jack who join forces to support her in her final requests. Jack's mysterious calling to this place and connection with the residents is revealed in the process.
Curiously, this is another recently received review book which has resonated on a personal level for me given my mother's situation in a very similar nursing home and at times, this made me feel like slapping Mrs Ingersoll, the owner, sharply :-)
I was heartily pleased to see her outcome, and the initiative shown by Amber to take the nursing home to a new and improved future.
As Rosie Borella's first novel this is both competently and engagingly written with deft touches of humour as well as pathos. Described as a coming-of-age story, it is that and more as Amber discovers more about herself, the elderly and others as well as her path in life. It is certainly insightful into a sadly too common treatment of our elderly by some, and the saving compassion of others to provided our older people with a dignified, comfortable and happy twilight. The sweet romance between Amber and the enigmatic Jack is delightful and readers will relish the interaction between the two. Readers will also no doubt empathise with Amber's somewhat turbulent relationship with her parents - a common theme for sixteen-year-olds everywhere.
Sue Warren

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Sep 16 2014

Bridie's boots by Phil Cummings

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Ill. by Sue 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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Sep 05 2014

The simple things by Bill Condon

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Allen & Unwin, 2014. ISBN 9781743317242.
For every Christmas and birthday of his ten years, Aunt Lola has sent Stephen $10.00 and, at his mother's insistence, he has dutifully written to thank her. But he has never met her and doesn't want to - what would a ten year-old city boy and...
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Sep 05 2014

My life (series) by Tristan Bancks

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Ill. by Gus Gordon. Random House, 2014.
My life and other stuff I made up ISBN 9780857983190
My life and other stuff that went wrong ISBN 9780857980373
Tom Weekly likes to write stories about his life because even though some things go wrong, he still gets to be...
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Sep 05 2014

Bubble trouble by Tom Percival

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Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN 9781408838778.
(Age: 3-7) Lift the flap book. Picture book. Friendship. When two friends decide to have a bubble blowing competition, trouble follows as they try to outdo each other, making machines to help them blow the biggest bubble ever. The story begins by...
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Sep 05 2014

Man made boy by Jon Skovron

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Allen & Unwin, 2013. ISBN 9781743315132.
(Age: 14+) This is a coming-of-age novel with a difference, described as 'hilarious, romantic and wildly imaginative' and it is all that indeed. Boy is the son of Frankenstein's Monster and his Bride and as you can imagine this is not a family...
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Sep 04 2014

Our fathers edited by Judy Macpherson Kent and Andrew Collett

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Wakefield Press, 2014. ISBN 9781743053133.
Recommended. Fatherhood. Family history. South Australia's social history. Work in Australia (post War focus). World War II. Suburban life. A school reunion led to the reflections of a collection of former Linden Park Primary students about...
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Sep 04 2014

Catch that plane! by Sally Sutton

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Ill. by Sylvie Currin Korankowa. Walker Books, 2014 ISBN 9781927120680.
(Age: 4+) Air travel. Airport. Family. As a family runs late to catch their plane, all the experiences of being in an airport are covered, as they go to the departure desk, run down the travelator, have a sniffer...
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Sep 04 2014

Frank Davies and the amazing frog catapult by Rohan Clifford

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Puffin, 2014. ISBN 9780143307532
(Ages: 10+) Recommended. To be honest, I took a while to get into this book and it sat on my bedside table half-read for a couple of weeks. That could be because of my natural prejudices about cane toads or perhaps whiney kids. Then I picked it up with a...
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Sep 04 2014

Ophelia Wild, deadly detective by Elena de Roo

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Ill. by Tracy Duncan. Walker Books, 2014. ISBN 9781922077639
(Ages: 7-9) Recommended. Detectives. Supernatural. Poetry.
'Banish those gremlins!
Ghosts on the go!
Deadly detectives,
O. Wild and Co'
Ophelia is a feisty character, a great storyteller who uses her...
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Sep 03 2014

Two tales of twins from Ancient Greece and Rome, retold by Ursula Dubosarsky

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Ill. by David Allan. Christmas Press, 2014. ISBN 9780992283844.
(Age: 6-10) Recommended. Folk tales, Romulus and Remus, Artemis and Apollo. Two well known tales are included in this beautifully illustrated book, Romulus and Remus, and Artemis and Apollo. I was surprised on...
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Sep 03 2014

Celia and Nonna by Victoria Lane and Kayleen West

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Ford St Publishing, 2014. ISBN 978925000603 (hardback). ISBN 978192000601 (paperback).
Highly recommended. This is a beautiful picture book and story of Celia and how she deals with her Nonna having to go to a nursing home.
Celia loves visiting Nonna's house where she has a special...
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Sep 03 2014

Tiger Stone by Deryn Mansell

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Black Dog Books, 2014. ISBN 9781742032399.
(Age: Middle school) Themes: Asia - Indonesia; Truth and betrayal; Historical fantasy; Friendship. This novel is bookended by chapters that introduce a modern day girl from Java, Indonesia, who is about to leave home to study. Her story is...
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Sep 03 2014

One minute's silence by David Metzenthen

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Ill. by Michael Camilleri. Allen & Unwin, 2014. ISBN 9781743316245.
(Age: 9+) Recommended. Picture book, World War One, Gallipoli, Remembrance. Sitting in a classroom where a desultory group of young adults must observe one minute's silence to remember those who fought, the...
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Sep 03 2014

Ned by Andrew Daddo

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Stuff happens series. Puffin, 2014. ISBN 9780143308096.
(Age: 8+) Recommended, Humour, Boys stories, School. Another in the series, Stuff happens, sees Ned, late on his first day at a new school because his sister left her all important bag in the car when Mum dropped her...
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Sep 02 2014

Summer of Monsters: the scandalous story of Mary Shelley by Tony Thompson

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Black Dog Books, 2014. ISBN 9781742032252.
Highly recommended for adolescent and adult readers.
'He that loves reading has everything within his reach.' William Godwin.
This is a novel that deals with old issues, from a long past age, with a great dose of modern story-telling,...
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Sep 02 2014

Spud & Charli by Samantha Wheeler

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UQP, 2014. ISBN 9780702250187.
(Age: 7-9) Themes: Horses, Horse riding, Bats, Hendra Virus, Imagination. Thanks to Uncle Ralph's surprise birthday money. Charli Priestly's dreams are about to come true, a week at riding camp, a week to learn all the skills needed to win the gymkhana, a...
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Sep 02 2014

Howzat! by Mike Lefroy

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Ill. by Liz Amelli. Walker Books, 2014. ISBN 9781922077646.
Starting in England, the children are playing cricket on a warm summer's day. The game is then followed in rhyming stanzas around the world, taking in a range of other countries, New Zealand, Australia, Pakistan, Afghanistan,...
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Sep 02 2014

A Question of Magic by E.D. Baker

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Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN 9781408839294.
(Age: 10+) Themes: Magic, Fantasy. Author E. D. Baker's A Question of Magic is a complex retelling of the Baba Yaga story. Serafina receives a letter from her great-aunt with special instructions on how she can collect her inheritance. Her destiny is...
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Sep 02 2014

Found and made: the art of recycling by Lisa Holzl

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Walker Books, 2014. ISBN 9781922179098.
(Age: 9+) Recommended. Non Fiction, Recycling, Art. An introduction followed by a chapter on what to collect for your recycling kit, is followed by eleven chapters, each outlining a different art project made from recycled materials. Subtitled,...
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Sep 02 2014

Bookie Gambler Fixer Spy by Ed Hawkins

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Bloomsbury, 2013. ISBN 9781408169964.
(Ages: 15 - Adult) Recommended. Non-Fiction. Recount. Deceit. Biographical. Ed Hawkins is a sports journalist who for many years conversed with some of the world's most infamous bookkeepers and illegal gamblers via the social networking website,...
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Sep 02 2014

Dark Wolf by Christine Feehan

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Piatkus, 2014. ISBN 9780349401911.
(Age: Adult) This paranormal romance, one of many by Christine Feehan set in the world of the Carpathians and Lycans, with rogue vampires, werewolves and humans with special powers, is a stand-alone story but fits in easily with the twenty or more other...
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Sep 01 2014

Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot vs. The Voodoo Vultures from Venus by Dav Pilkey

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Ill. by Dan Santat. Scholastic, 2014. ISBN 9780545630115.
(Ages 7-10) Recommended. Aficionados of the Captain Underpants books will lap up this full coloured graphic novel featuring the inimitable mouse Ricky Ricotta and his amazing Mighty Robot.
Ricky and his Robot are...
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Sep 01 2014

Lucky by David Mackintosh

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HarperCollins Children's Books, 2014. ISBN 9780007463039.
(Age: 4+) Recommended, Picture book, Family, Surprises. When Mum tells the boys there will be a surprise at dinner tonight, they cannot wait. Leo and his brother discuss things that have been surprises in the past, and think about...
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Sep 01 2014

Jack by Tony Wilson

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Stuff happens series. Puffin, 2014. ISBN 9780143308225.
(Ages: 8+) Recommended. Boys' stories, School and home, Humour. Stories about boys, aimed at boys and containing real life stories of their school and home life are rare. Even rarer are those that have readily identifiable...
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Sep 01 2014

Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi

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Ill. by Robert Ingpen. Walker Books, 2014. ISBN 9781922244048.
(Ages: 8 to adult) Recommended. Classic. Responsibility, Family. Pinocchio began its life as a serial published weekly in the Giornale per i Bambini in 1881. The episodes were published together as The Adventures of Pinocchio...
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Sep 01 2014

Masquerade by Kylie Fornasier

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Penguin, 2014. ISBN 9780143571070.
This is a sad tale of a young woman who is left alone on the death of her mother and who takes herself to Venice, in 1750, bearing a letter for the man whom she believes is her uncle. The setting is right at the beginning of Carnevale, a celebration of...
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Sep 01 2014

Quincy Jordan by Jen Storer

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Crystal Bay Girls bk 1. Puffin, 2014. ISBN 9780143307594.
(Age: 10+) Quincy Jordan is an ideal heroine for tweens in middle school but YA readers will also get a kick out of her dramas. Plucked out of her private girl's school in Sydney by her deserted mother looking for a...
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Aug 29 2014

Vanilla icecream by Bob Graham

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Walker Books, 2014. ISBN 9781406350098.
(Age: 3-adult) Highly recommended. Picture book. Freedom. Sanctuary. Journeys. India. Australia. Amnesty International. The simple act of a sparrow pecking at crumbs on the table at a cafe, causes the dog to leap, and an icecream to fall from a...
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Aug 28 2014

Blueback by Tim Winton

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Viking, 2014. ISBN 9780670078004.
(Age: Yr 4+) 'Abel Jackson had lived by the sea here at Longboat Bay ever since he could remember. His whole life was the sea and the bush. Every day was special, his mother always told him this, but it all became much more precious the day he first...
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Aug 28 2014

Araminta Spook: Ghostsitters by Angie Sage

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Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN 9781408838648
(Age: 9+) Highly recommended. Araminta Spook- Ghostsitters sees our main character, Araminta, about to celebrate her birthday but her auntie has won a trip of a lifetime to Transylvania leaving Araminta to celebrate alone. When she realises she...
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