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

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 grandparent's hand onto the child in her pusher. Edie has her first taste of icecream.
The sparrow has come from India, a place where food is not to be wasted, and being a young bold bird, follows the food on a truck to a ship, and within the cargo hold, the bird hitches a ride to Australia.
The freedom of the sparrow in doing this contrasts vividly with others around the world who do not get that choice, whose journeys are curtailed.
The sparrow finds a new life in Australia, and can now be found at the Botanic Cafe ready to peck at any crumbs that fall, inadvertently setting in motion a series of events which culminates in a simple new experience for Edie.
The bird's flight from India to Australia is beautifully presented, the illustrations carefully planned to showcase each country and contrast the lives led. In India, the sparrow is a truck-stop bird, one that stays around the roadside samosa stall, waiting for any opportunity. In Australia it eats the crumbs from the cafe tables.
Graham's perfect watercolour illustrations show the reader the differences and similarities of both countries, children playing, people serving food, the cafe and the samosa stall. India is presented in detail, the man cooking the samosa in his stall, his wife in the room next door making them, a chair and table outside for customers, with palm trees standing silently behind, the iron roof of the stall held down with bamboo, the scooter drawn vehicle parked nearby, the paintings on the front of the trucks; each detail reminds us of India. And in Australia, the black swans in the park, the Botanic Cafe, grandparents looking after their grandchildren, the Moreton bay fig tree, the eucalypts, show the readers aspects of Australia.
Endorsed by Amnesty International, because 'we should all enjoy life, freedom and safety', parents, readers and teachers all will be encouraged to view the wider picture presented in this story. Discussions around freedom, the right to choose, the right to be safe can be evoked using this story, and many classrooms will use it as the basis for cultural understandings as promoted in the Australian Curriculum.
Fran Knight

More Reviews

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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Aug 28 2014

Beetle Bottoms and the eyes in the night by Madison Holroyd, Sarah Hill and Fiona Whyte

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Visible Love Publishing. ISBN 9780987595928.
The mother-and-daughter team of three continue their mission to encourage imaginative play combined with storytelling for young children with this new Beetle Bottoms adventure. The Beetle Bottoms are tiny wee creatures living in your...
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Aug 28 2014

Calypso summer by Jared Thomas

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Magabala Books, 2014. ISBN 9781922142122.
(Age: Upper Secondary students) Well recommended.
A strong storyline with feisty young indigenous characters buoys this novel along. It's told with candid humour in modern, young adolescents' language; often funny and insightful, with clever...
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Aug 28 2014

Emu by Claire Saxby

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Ill. by Graham Byrner. Walker Books, 2014. ISBN 9781922179708.
(Age: 5-adult) Highly recommended. Picture book. Australian animals. Emu. Nurturing. With an emu peering out at the reader on the front cover, the desire to open the book is nothing short of compelling. From page one with the...
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Aug 28 2014

Caro was here by Elizabeth Farrelly

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Walker Books, 2014. ISBN 9781922244833.
(Age: 11+) Recommended. Journey. Islands. Truanting. Friendships. When Caro wants an adventure she truants from school taking her much younger brother along as well, but all sorts of other people join her escapade, some she does not like or want....
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Aug 28 2014

Iris and Isaac by Catherine Rayner

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Little Tiger Press, 2010 ISBN 9781848950924.
(Age: 4-6) Recommended. Picture book. Friendship. Another charming story from Rayner, with her distinctive water colours across the pages, is offered in this lovely story of two friends who fall out.
When Iris makes a snow bed it is too...
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Aug 28 2014

Hokey pokey by Ed Allen

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Scholastic, 2014. ISBN 9781742836454.
'Aussie edition' Hokey pokey brings a collection of Aussie animals together to sing the traditional song 'The hokey pokey'. Get your child up and dancing with the actions and singing along with the lyrics. Have them investigate the different...
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Aug 27 2014

Hero 41: Eye of the Gargoyle by Sam Penant

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Orchard Books, 2014. ISBN 9781408328286.
(Age: 10-14) Recommended. When Dax Daley cut his tongue on an envelope and sent it off, he didn't realise how much his life would soon change. By licking the envelope he had submitted his DNA to the government and thus exposed himself to...
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Aug 27 2014

Ava Anne Appleton: Catching a wave by Wendy Harmer

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Ill. by Andrea Edmonds. Scholastic Australia: 2014. ISBN 9781743622353.
(Ages: 7-9) Recommended. Wendy Harmer continues the alphabetically aware Ava Anne Appleton series about the family who has packed up and left the security of their suburban home to travel around Australia in...
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Aug 27 2014

My funny family moves house by Chris Higgins

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Ill. by Lee Wildish. Hachette, 2014. ISBN 9781444918410.
Mattie Butterfield reports on the chaotic life of her tight knit family chronicling their lives and adding to her extensive Worry List. The family home is bursting at the seams but is moving the best option?
With the arrival...
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Aug 27 2014

My Grumpy Day illustrated by Felicity Gardner

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Lothian Children's Books, 2014. ISBN 9780734415448.
(Ages 2 - 10) Recommended. 'Some mornings, Max wakes up happy. Some mornings, Max wakes up hungry. But this morning, Max woke up grumpy.' My Grumpy Day follows a young gorilla called Max as he contends with his day's adventures....
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Aug 27 2014

Butter by Erin Lange

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Bloomsbury, 2012. ISBN 9781599907802.
(Age: 14+) 'The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.' Edmund Burke
Scottsdale High seems a pretty average high school with the usual groups of teens including those who are popular and those who are not....
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Aug 26 2014

New City by Deborah Abela

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Random House, 2014. ISBN 9781742758558.
(Ages: 9-12) Recommended. Beginning with a Diary entry by Griff giving a synopsis of the first book, Grimsdon,is an interesting way of setting the scene for New City which follows the fortunes of the Grimsdon survivors as they leave their...
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Aug 26 2014

Benji the Buccaneer by Craig Cormick

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Little Rockets series. New Frontier Publishing, 2014. ISBN 9781925059052.
(Age: 7+) Everyone is fascinated by pirates and so is our main character, Benji. While waiting for the school bus, Benji is given the chance to take a different bus, a bus with a variety of characters and...
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Aug 26 2014

The legend series by Marie Lu

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Penguin, 2013.
Prodigy. ISBN 9780141344096.
Champion. ISBN 9780141351964.
(Age: Teens) Prodigy is a well thought out sequel to Marie Lu's original dystopian tale Legend. With the introduction of new characters and plotlines, it continues the...
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Aug 26 2014

Florentine and Pig and the Spooky Forest Adventure by Eva Katzler and Jess Mikhail

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Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN 9781408824399.
(Age 3+) Florentine and Pig were sound asleep on a quiet, still dark night when suddenly they are woken by the most ghostly noise. Is it the sound of the Growling, Prowling Bog Mog? Together they decide to venture outdoors to find it so it will never...
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Aug 26 2014

There's a lion in my cornflakes by Michelle Robinson

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Ill. by Jim Field. Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN 9781408845608.
(Age: 4+) Recommended, Animals, Humour, Competitions, Family. Seeing a competition on the cornflake packet inspires Eric and Dan to collect the 100 tokens to win a lion. They use all their pocket money to buy the packets from the...
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Aug 22 2014

Awe of Mercury by Elon Dann

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Hot Key Books, 2014. ISBN 9781471401190.
(Ages: 14+ ) Highly Recommended. Survival. Friendship. Gruesome. Deceit. The Spiral is an underground, circular prison that rotates each prisoner one cell to their left each day. This will continue until the prisoner has reached the last cell...
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Aug 22 2014

One rule for Jack by Sally Morgan and Ezekiel Kwaymullina

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Ill. by Craig Smith. Omnibus, 2014. ISBN 9781742990330.
(Age: 7+) Recommended. Aboriginal themes. Family life. When Jack wants to slide out of jobs to do around the home, he has one rule, 'do it badly'. When showering in the morning, he turns on the tap, wets his hair, then walks out...
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Aug 22 2014

An English boy in New York by T.S Easton

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Hot Key Books 2014. ISBN 9781471401497.
(Age: 13+) While this is the sequel to Boys don't knit there are sufficient explanatory references dotted throughout the story to keep the new reader up to speed.
Having...
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Aug 22 2014

Alice-Miranda in Japan by Jacqueline Harvey

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Random House, 2014. ISBN 9781742757599.
'Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones attends boarding school at Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies. A truly positive heroine, she is funny, kind, optimistic and able to solve just about any...
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Aug 22 2014

Analogue men: a novel by Nick Earls

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Vintage Australia, 2014. ISBN 9781864711523
Recommended for anyone with a sense of humour.'Do you ever feel like you might have just one more chance to get on top of your life and make things happen?'
Andrew Van Fleet has been a long-distance husband, father and son for some years...
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Aug 21 2014

Rivertime by Trace Balla

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Allen & Unwin, 2014. ISBN 9781743316337
Highly recommended for around Year 3 upwards. Every now and then a book comes along and you just look at it amazed. This apparent picture book is really a graphic novel that recounts an extraordinary trip along the Glenelg River undertaken by a...
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Aug 21 2014

1914 by Sophie Masson

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Australia's Great War series. Scholastic, 2014. ISBN 9781743622476.
Sophie Masson is to be congratulated for writing about Australians in the Great War without feeling an obligation to open with Gallipoli in 1915. She introduces brothers Louis and Thomas Julian who are French on...
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Aug 21 2014

Jasper Zammit: Soccer legend by Deborah Abela

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Random House Australia, 2014. ISBN 9780857983206. (Age: 10+) Recommended. Deborah Abela obviously greatly admired Johnny Warren, captain and vice-captain of the Socceroos from 1964 to 1974. Johnny was involved in the sport for 50 years and Deborah has drawn on his experiences when writing...
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Aug 21 2014

Whiffy Wilson, the wolf who wouldn't go to school by Caryl Hart

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Ill. by Leonie Lord. Hachette, 2014. ISBN 9781408325858.
(Age: 3-8) Recommended. Picture book. School. Learning. Whiffy doesn't know how to hold a pen, he has never been to school. He cannot write his name or count to ten, and when his father tells him it is time for school, his response...
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Aug 21 2014

Superhero School: The revenge of the green meanie by Alan MacDonald

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Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN 9781408825235
(Age: 8+) Recommended. Alan MacDonald is a master of exciting stories that lead the young reader through incredible adventures. In Superhero School, Stan Button dreams of becoming superhero Dangerboy, taking on evil super villains at every...
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Aug 19 2014

Rescue on Nim's island by Wendy Orr

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Allen & Unwin, 2014. ISBN 9781743316788.
(Age: 9+) Highly recommended. Conservation, Sustainability, Island life, Adventure. After the first two successful stories of Nim and her island (Nim's island, and Nim at sea) it is a pleasure to read another about this...
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Aug 19 2014

Badudu stories by May L. O'Brien

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Fremantle Press, 2014. ISBN 9781922089823.
(Age: 6-10) Recommended. Chapter book, Aboriginal themes, Early learning, Western Australia.
Four short stories, first published by May L. O'Brien in 1994 have been collected together to contribute to the growing store of literature about...
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Aug 19 2014

Cryptic casebook of Coco Carlomagno and Alberta: The quivering quavers by Ursula Dubosarsky

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Puzzles and illustrations by Terry Denton. Allen & Unwin, 2014. ISBN 9781743319512.
(Age: Middle primary and adults) Highly recommended. This is a new to me series by the ever reliable Ursula Dubosarsky. This is a funny mystery when Alberta receives a coded letter from Coco to come...
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Aug 19 2014

The Last Apprentice: The Painted War by Imogen Rossi

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Hot Keys Books, 2014. ISBN 9781471402616.
Recommended by readers 12+. Imogen Rossi's A Painted War, the conclusion to The Last Apprentice series illustrates a Renaissance like no other. With magical paintings and a paintbrush-turned-key, this novel puts a spin to a classic...
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Aug 19 2014

Ciao EJ! by Susannah McFarlane

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EJ12 bk 18. LemonFizz Media, 2014. ISBN 9781921931666.
Recommended for readers from 8-10 years of age. Emma Jack's eighteenth mystery adventure takes the SHINE Stars off to Italy. Famous statues are mysteriously being targeted, stained with black paint and the combined skills of...
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Aug 19 2014

The Graveyard Book volume 1 by Neil Gaiman

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Graphic adaptation by P. Craig Russell. Ill. by Kevin Nowlan, P. Craig Russell, Tony Harris, Scott Hampton, Galen Showman, Jill Thompson, Stephen B. Scott. Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN: 9781408858998.
This graphic version of the very popular Graveyard Book covers the first half of the...
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Aug 19 2014

The sequin star by Belinda Murrell

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Random House Australia, 2014. ISBN 9780857982056.
(Age: 12+) Recommended. Belinda Murrell is an accomplished Australian writer of teen fiction and the Lulu Bell series for younger readers. The Sequin Star is one of several stories that she has written that involve a journey...
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Aug 19 2014

Billy is a dragon series by Nick Falk

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Ill. by Tony Flowers. Random House Australia Children's, 2014.
Billy is a Dragon: Shadow Shifter. ISBN: ISBN 9780857983152.
Billy is a Dragon: Eaten Alive. ISBN: 9780857983176.
Billy is back with two more exciting adventures for newly independent readers. When Billy was bitten...
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Aug 18 2014

Every word by Ellie Marney

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Allen & Unwin, 2014. ISBN 9781743316511.
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. Crime, Thriller, Melbourne, London, Sherlock Holmes. When Rachel Watts hears her boyfriend, Mycroft has boarded a plane for London, accompanying the forensic investigator, Dr Walsh, she is devastated. She knows...
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Aug 17 2014

Are you seeing me? by Darren Groth

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Woolshed Press, 2014. ISBN 978857984739
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. Disability. Cancer. Twins. Journeys. Canada. Using their inheritance for a trip to Vancouver with her twin brother, Justine opens her father's diary to read on the plane. Her brother is in his seat on the other side...
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Aug 17 2014

Plenty by Ananda Braxton-Smith

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Black Dog Books, 2014. ISBN 9781742032429.
(Age: 8-12) Recommended. Journeys. Moving house. Refugees. When ten year old Maddy is told by her parents that they are moving to the small country town called Plenty because her grandmother is becoming less able to cope by herself, she is...
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Aug 17 2014

Warrior heroes: The viking's revenge by Benjamin Hulme-Cross

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Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN 9781472904492.
Recommended.(Age 10+ for good readers; or 13+ for those who struggle to read. Will be enjoyed by male readers, does not patronise young readers.) Vikings. Quest fiction. Adventure. Historical fiction. Time travel.
This is the first book I have...
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Aug 17 2014

Construction by Sally Sutton

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Ill. by Brian Lovelock. Walker Books Australia, 2014. ISBN 9781922077301
Young readers will love this onomatopoeic picture book that takes them on a journey filled with construction as a library is being built. From the award-winning duo Sally Sutton and Brian Lovelock, this book is...
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