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

Oct 24 2014

Clariel by Garth Nix

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Abhorsen bk 4. Allen & Unwin, 2014. ISBN 9781741758627
(Age: 13+) Highly recommended. The long awaited prequel to the Abhorsen series (Sabriel, Lireal and Abhorsen), continues this series that Cassandra Clare says has 'influenced a generation of fantasy writers' (back cover). Sixteen-year-old Clariel has an affinity for the forests of Estwael, and hates being in the city of Belisaere. Here she finds that her mother has been keeping secrets from her about her abilities as a member of the Abhorsens, and that she is expected to follow the demands of everyone around her. The King has retreated into solitude after his daughter left and Guildmaster Kilip is determined to take over as ruler. The Abhorsen is intent only on hunting and no longer carries out his duties. There is a Free Magic creature that Clariel is asked to help capture but things do not go well and her chance to escape disappears as the land falls into chaos.
Clariel is not your usual heroine. She is solitary and self-absorbed, determined to live a life alone in the forest. She is not interested in romance and it was a relief not to have the almost inevitable love triangle as a major plot. Instead it is the inner struggle that Clariel has that is central to the plot. She must learn how to control her berserk nature, even though she has not had the education in Charter Magic that she needs. As the book develops Clariel is tempted by the power of Free Magic and her urgings to give into her dark side. The struggles between the creatures that belong to the Free Magic and the wielders of Charter Magic are fascinating to follow. Mogget, the 'cat', makes another welcome appearance, his wily nature and sarcastic comments adding greatly to the plot.
I was fortunate that I had read the previous books earlier this year so had some background about the island home of the Abhorsens, the paperwing aeroplanes that soared high in the sky and the Charter marks; however it would not be necessary to have read the series as Clariel will stand alone. Lovers of fantasy will delight in this tale and the whole series would be a great introduction to really good fantasy for those who haven't read it.
Pat Pledger

More Reviews

Oct 24 2014

Starring Jules (Super-secret spy girl) by Beth Ain

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Allen & Unwin, 2014. ISBN 9781743318850
(Age: Year 6-7) Second grade has ended, which means it's time for Jules Bloom, beginner actress to film her first movie, The Spy in the Attic. Unfortunately, Charlotte her ex best friend has Jules worrying about impressing her teen idol, Emma...
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Oct 24 2014

Cured by Bethany Wiggins

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Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN: 9781408842959
(Age: Older teens) Recommended. Cured by Bethany Wiggins is the sequel to her post-apocalyptic adventure of a novel, Stung. Cured is a story based on another girl's perspective after the aftermath of Fiona Tarsis and how she...
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Oct 24 2014

The naughtiest girl saves the day by Anne Digby

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Hodder Children's Books, 2014. ISBN 9780340917756
(Age: 9-13) This novel is a fiction book.
Elizabeth is known as the naughtiest girl, but is she really the naughtiest girl? Elizabeth is accused of committing naughty deeds, but did she do them?
This novel is set at Whyteleafe...
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Oct 24 2014

Ambon by Roger Maynard

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Hachette Australia, 2014. ISBN 9780733630484
(Age: Senior Secondary) Subtitled: The Truth About One of the Most Brutal POW Camps in World War II and the Triumph of the Aussie Spirit. This book describes the deployment of 1150 Australian soldiers in a unit called Gull Force, to the...
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Oct 24 2014

Alice-Miranda 2015 Diary by Jacqueline Harvey

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Random House, 2014. ISBN 9780857984104
Highly recommended. With a pastel green striped and spotted cover Alice-Miranda is back with her 2015 diary. What a wonderful Christmas or birthday gift for a young fan. It is the most spectacularly special diary you'll ever use!
Once again,...
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Oct 24 2014

Good Dog Hank by Jackie French

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Ill. by Nina Rycroft. HarperCollins, 2014. ISBN 9780732293642. ebk.ISBN 9780730496397.
(Age: Early childhood) Hank is a very good dog - or so it seems. He obeys all the house rules like not eating from the table or climbing on the beds or chasing cars although he does have his own way...
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Oct 24 2014

The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

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Doubleday, 2014. ISBN 9780857532503
(Age: 10+) Recommended. 'Call!' Alistair barked. His face was pale. 'You absolutely cannot stay at the school. You don't understand - it's too dangerous. Call, you must listen to me. You don't know what you are.'
For as long as Callum Hunt could...
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Oct 23 2014

Little Dog and the Christmas wish by Corinne Fenton and Robin Cowcher

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Black Dog Books, 2014. ISBN 9781742032368
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Christmas. Animals. Customs at Christmas. At this time of the year, there are so many Christmas books published that I despair of seeing anything different. Several years ago, I read a picture book called The gift...
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Oct 23 2014

The twelve days of Christmas by Alison Jay

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Scholastic, 2014. ISBN 9781724761145
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Christmas. Carols. Folk tale. Presents. The beautiful Christmas carol 'The twelve days of Christmas' is told with the most marvelous of illustrations in this lovely production from Scholastic. The song is given on each...
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Oct 23 2014

Christmas Wonderland by Yvette Poshoglian

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Ella & Olivia series. Scholastic, 2014. ISBN 9781743620557
(Age: 5-7) Recommended. The Ella and Olivia series are enjoyable beginning chapter books recommended for readers from 5-7 years. Ella is seven and Olivia is five and a half, they live with their baby brother Max...
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Oct 23 2014

Deck the sheds with bits of wattle by Colin Buchanan & Greg Champion

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Ill. by Glen Singleton. Scholastic, 2014. ISBN 9781743620427
(Age: 5+) Recommended. Christmas. Carols. Australian life. The Aussie singing duo, Bucko and Champs have teamed up once again with Scholastic to publish another one of their popular Christmas parodies. Following on the success...
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Oct 23 2014

One night by Penny Matthews

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Ill. by Stephen Michael King. Scholastic, 2014. ISBN 9781742990279
(Age: 3+) Recommended. Christmas. Animals. One of the tales emanating from the story of Christmas, is that of the first Christmas Eve, when animals were given the gift of speech. Penny Matthews has used this story as the...
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Oct 23 2014

Santa's busy reindeer by Ed Allen

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Ill. by Nathaniel Eckstrom. Scholastic, 2014. ISBN 9781743624180
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Christmas. Reindeer. Counting game. Rhymes. Paralleling the song of 'Ten green bottles', this rhyming story will entreat younger readers with its easy flowing style and rhyming words. The ten reindeer...
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Oct 23 2014

Tea and sugar Christmas by Jane Jolly

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Ill. by Robert Ingpen. National Library of Australia, 2014. ISBN 9780642278630.
(Age: all) Highly recommended. Christmas. Australian history. Nullarbor. Aboriginal themes. Kathleen is eagerly waiting for the train. But this is no ordinary train. It is the Tea and Sugar Train which runs...
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Oct 23 2014

The Christmas rose by Wendy Blaxland

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Ill. by Lucy Hennessey. Walker Books, 2014. ISBN 9781921720406
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Christmas. Folk tale. Flowers. The folk tale of the Christmas Rose, the white hellebore is retold in this stunningly different book. The white hellebore flowers during the cold winter months and looks a...
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Oct 23 2014

Yikes, Santa Claws! by Pamela Butchart and Sam Lloyd

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Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN 978408851388
(Age: Preschool) Christmas. Verse. Vibrantly illustrated, this story of a stand-in Santa Claus will cause a ripple of mirth amongst younger readers, as they hear of the silly dinosaur and his antics on Christmas Eve. When he arrives at the stegosaur...
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Oct 22 2014

The wild one by Sonya Hartnett

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Ill. by Lucia Masciullo. Penguin/Viking, 2014. ISBN 9780670076970
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Environment, Generations, Childhood. Charlie loves going into the woods to meet his friend, the wild one, his inner self. He whiles away the days, climbing trees, running through the woods, kicking...
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Oct 22 2014

Pandora Jones: Deception by Barry Jonsberg

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Pandora Jones bk 2. Allen & Unwin, 2014. ISBN 9781743318126
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. Thriller. Dystopian fiction. Pandemic. Survival. In Admission, the first in the series, Pandora has been admitted into The...
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Oct 22 2014

The Secret Abyss by Darrell Pitt

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A Jack Mason Adventure Book 2. Text, 2014. ISBN 9781922147967
Recommended for readers from 11 years of age. Jack Mason, Scarlet and Mr Doyle are back for their second mysterious adventure. This time they are on the trail of a prison escapee, the world's most evil killer, the...
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Oct 22 2014

The Party by Gabriel Evans

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Woodland Whiskers series. Five Mile Press, 2014. ISBN 9781760060992
(Ages: 2 - 6) Recommended. It was Saffron's birthday and she woke bright and early. The little mouse was excited.
The party is a beautifully drawn short story that evokes memories of the Peter Rabbit books I...
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Oct 22 2014

Noni the pony goes to the beach by Alison Lester

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Allen & Unwin, 2014. ISBN 9781743311141
(Age: pre school) Recommended. Animals, Beach, Friendship. Friendly Noni loves going to the beach when it is sunny, and takes her friends, Dave the dog, Coco the cat, and the ladies next door. At the beach the cows love standing in the water up...
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Oct 22 2014

Create your dream room by Sophie Splatt

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Five Mile Press, 2014. ISBN 9781760060916
Fans of re decorating shows can celebrate. In this book they have found a cheap alternative to redecorating their daughter's room with the bonus being she can either do it herself or help too!
Using basic materials, paper, scissors, glue...
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Oct 22 2014

The Naughtiest Girl Keeps a Secret by Anne Digby

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Hodder & Stoughton Ltd., 2014. ISBN 9781444918861
(Age: 9+) The main character in The Naughtiest Girl Keeps a Secret is young Elizabeth, who goes to Whyteleafe Boarding School and has a reputation for being the naughtiest girl in the school. She has worked hard to change her...
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Oct 22 2014

Are You Seeing Me? by Darren Groth

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Random House Australia, 2014. ISBN: 9780857984739
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. In the past few months I have been slightly disappointed in the Australian YA fiction which I have encountered, as compared to the international ditto. This book knocked that opinion for six. Darren Groth...
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Oct 20 2014

Heap House written and illustrated by Edward Carey

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Iremonger trilogy, book 1. Hot Key Books, 2014. ISBN: 9781471401572
(Age: 13+) Highly recommended. All those escaped objects were rushing pell-mell in the same direction. They were skittering, thumping, crashing along the cellar walls, all speeding the same way. All hurrying to...
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Oct 20 2014

The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard

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Hot Key Books, 2014. ISBN: 9781471404344
(Age: Older teens) High school senior Nolan Hotchkiss is one of those lucky kids - handsome, rich and a self-centered bully who walks all over the other students. No one can touch him and no one wants to try . . . Until now. Five girls - Ava,...
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Oct 20 2014

The Ellie McDoodle Diaries: Have pen, will travel by Ruth McNally Barshaw

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Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN 9781408855973
(Age: 7-12 years) Recommended. At last, a series in the vein of Tom Gates and Eric Vale, with a female protagonist Ellie McDougal, or McDoodle as her friends call her because of her love of drawing.
Ellie's parents have left town for a family...
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Oct 20 2014

Penguin and Pumpkin by Salina Yoon

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Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN 9781408858370
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Penguins, Animals, Friendship, Seasons. For an introduction to the seasons, particularly autumn, this book is a treat, as Penguin, seen in three other books by Yoon,  Penguin and Pinecone, Penguin on holiday...
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Oct 20 2014

Emilie and the Hollow World by Martha Wells

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Emilie, bk 1. Strange Chemistry, 2013. ISBN 9781908844484
(Age: 11-14) This is Martha Wells' first book for the young adult audience but it could equally be enjoyed by upper primary readers. Emilie is a 16 year old girl who runs away from an intolerable situation in her uncle's...
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Oct 17 2014

Literature to Support the Geography Curriculum by Fran Knight and Pat Pledger

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Pledger Consulting, 2014. ISBN: 9781876678418
(Teacher reference) Highly recommended. Following the same layout as their previous Australian Curriculum publications, the...
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Oct 17 2014

The Graveyard Book volume 2 by Neil Gaiman

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Graphic adaptation by P. Craig Russell. Ill. by David Lafuente, P. Craig Russell, Scott Hampton, Kevin Nowlan, Galen Showman. Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN 9781408859001
(Age:Upper primary+) Volume 2 of the graphic version of The Graveyard Bookfollows on from the first, again showcasing...
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Oct 17 2014

The story of World War One by Richard Brassey

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Orion Children's Books, 2014. ISBN 9781444010855
The Centenary of World War One beginning this year has given rise to a plethora of books remembering a variety of events and battles. This offering aims to give a simple overview explaining this complex piece of history.
Richard...
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Oct 17 2014

Spirit Animals: Fire and Ice by Shannon Hale

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Scholastic, 2014. ISBN 9781743620014
(Age: 7-12) Recommended. Fire and Ice is the fourth book in the Spirit Animal series following the adventures of four chosen youngsters their Greencloak guide, Tarik, in their quest to obtain the talismans of the Great beasts and save...
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Oct 17 2014

Edith Cowan: A quiet woman of note by Hazel Edwards

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Ill. by Angela Grzegrzolka. New Frontier, 2014. ISBN 9781925059021
Edith Cowan's face graces one side of the fifty dollar note but most would not be aware of her past and the reforms she was able to introduce. Known as the first woman elected to any Australian Parliament, she served the...
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Oct 16 2014

Pathfinder by Angie Sage

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A Todhunter Moon adventure. Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN 9781408858158
(Age: 8+) Highly recommended. Angie Sage's highly anticipated Pathfinder delivers an exciting twist on the popular fantasy genre. The novel's storyline is both crazily unique and compelling as the author...
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Oct 16 2014

The Name at the End of the Ladder by Elena De Roo

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Walker Books, 2014. ISBN 9781922244475
(Age: 9+) Highly recommended for readers from 9-12 years. Win the game to choose your name and free the players who remain. Twelve year old September's life is about to drastically change as she is caught up in the evil schemes of Madame Alcina and...
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Oct 16 2014

Little Red Riding Hood by Charles Perrault, retold by Margrete Lamond

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Ill. by Anna Pignataro. Little Hare Books, 2014. ISBN 9781921894879
(Age: 4+) Fairy Tales, Little Red Riding Hood. As the heading, 'Once upon a timeless tale' is above the title on the front cover, I hope there are more of these in the pipeline. The unusual illustrations and lively...
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Oct 16 2014

Hello from Nowhere by Raewyn Caisley and Karen Blair

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Viking/Penguin, 2014. ISBN 9780670075003
(Age: K-3) Far out in the middle of nowhere, the back of beyond, even beyond the black stump lives Eve - and she thinks it is the best place in the world to live. Even though it is so desolate and distant, she's never lonely because there are all...
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Oct 15 2014

Festive in Death by J.D. Robb

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In Death bk 39. Piatkus, 2014. ISBN 9780349403670
(Age: Adult) Crime. In the 39th book featuring Eve Dallas, J.D. Robb once again comes up with an entertaining murder mystery. This time Eve is not just dealing with the death of an unlikeable personal trainer, Trey Ziegler, who...
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Oct 13 2014

Christmas in Australia by John Williamson

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Penguin, 2014. ISBN 9780670077724.
(Age: 4 to adult) Humour, Christmas.I am surprised that a CD is not included in this book, as I really felt that I needed to hear the song sung to give me an idea of the scan and rhyme. So I went onto Youtube, and ...
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