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 17 2014

Once upon a Christmas compiled and edited by Beattie Alvarez

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Christmas Press, 2014. ISBN 9780992283858
(Age: 9+) This is a collection of Christmas stories, poems and illustrations, dedicated to Santa Claus. With contributions from many of Australia's well known and best loved authors like Duncan Ball, Ursula Dubosarsky, Vashti Farrer, Kate Forsyth, Pamela Freeman, Susanne Gervay, Juliet Marillier and Sophie Masson, and illustrations by a variety of artists, this is a wide ranging collection of memoirs about Christmas, some folktales and poetry. Those looking for stories that celebrate the birth of Christ will find only a few references to this event, although I found the poignant poem by Anne Bee, The Donkey a beautiful reminder of the Nativity as was the poem The Mouse by Nette Hilton
I browsed through this collection picking out stories by my favourite authors. In the Inglenook by Juliet Marillier tells the tale of two abandoned Christmas decoration toys who are rescued by a mother who remembered them from her childhood. Robert's tree by Pamela Freeman describes how Robert's Christmas tree grew so big that it had to be put in the ground. For older readers, reading the poignant, Christmas at the Homeless Shelter by Adele Geras, could mean a discussion about the true meaning of Christmas and how they could perhaps help those in need at this time. Babushka and the Star a traditional Russian Christmas legend retold by Sophie Masson is a beautiful tale of Babushka, who 'will never stop looking for the little child born under the miraculous star.'
Some of the stories describe how the authors celebrate Christmas, Grandma's Christmas by Susanne Gervay brings a picture of her much loved parents and how their contributions to Christmas are being passed down through the generations. Isabelle Merlin in Childhood Christmas - plus a cake describes how she loved her Christmas celebrations in France, and even gives an easy French Christmas log cake recipe that would be easy for young readers to make with the help of an adult. These memoirs could give rise to a writing activity in class, with each child writing about how Christmas or another important holiday is celebrated in their family. The diverse writings could prove to be discussion point in the class about many beliefs and customs in Australia and around the world.
Each page is decorated with Christmas bells and holly and there are some lovely full page coloured illustrations, disconcertingly placed in the middle of the book, rather than with the story they illustrate.
All in all this would be a very useful collection to have in a library and the varied texts could lead to lively discussions and directed writing about Christmas.
Pat Pledger

More Reviews

Dec 17 2014

The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

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Indigo, 2014. ISBN 9781780621999
Not suitable for younger readers. In the brutal, lawless Walled City, violent criminals are in control whilst broken, lost souls such as street children try to survive anyway they can, living in filthy squalor and being wary of everyone.
Most of the...
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Dec 17 2014

The Tree House by Toni Brisland

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Ill. by Michele Gaudion. Little Steps, 2014. ISBN 9781925117011
(Age: K - 3) Teresa and Emma are sisters and best friends and Emma's greatest wish is that her profoundly disabled sister could run on rainbows and do the things that she can, like climbing trees. So she asks Daddy and...
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Dec 17 2014

Rory and the Monstersitter by Rosie Reeve

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Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN 9781408845516
(Age: Preschool - Yr 2) Rory the Monster loves to cook and he's always creating new and interesting recipes using whatever ingredients he has to hand - bats, bugs, anything is likely to end up in the mix. One evening, his parents decide to go on...
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Dec 17 2014

My Little Star by Mark Sperring

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Ill. by Nicola O'Byrne. Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN 9781408849613
(Age: Preschool - K)
'When the day is done and sleeps draws near
When the moon's aglow and stars appear
I'll whisper something crystal clear
Words just meant for you hear'
.
Mem Fox once said that...
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Dec 17 2014

The Wombats at the Zoo by Roland Harvey

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Allen & Unwin, 2014. ISBN: 9781743319048
(Age: 6-9) Highly recommended. Picture books. 2013 marked the 30th anniversary of Roland Harvey's first published book and sixty years since he created his first book! Many lucky folk were able to attend his exhibition 'Roland Harvey: a...
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Dec 15 2014

The arrival by Shaun Tan

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Hachette, 2014. ISBN 9780734415868
(Age: All) Highly recommended. Immigration, Refugees, Loneliness. A stranger arrives in a strange land, leaving behind his wife and daughter until he can send for them. He is one of many, moving like robots through the immigration centre, finding work...
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Dec 15 2014

Snow by Walter de la Mare

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Ill. by Carolina Rabei. Faber, 2014. ISBN 9780571312191
(Ages: 4-6) Highly recommended. This stunning presentation of de la Mare's poem is a triumph. Rabei's illustrations using a limited palette of colours to accentuate the crisp white of the snow are just beautiful and take the classic...
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Dec 15 2014

Isla and the happily ever after by Stephanie Perkins

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Anna and the French Kiss, bk 3. Usborne, 2014. ISBN 9781409581130
(Age: 15+) Recommended. Romance. Travel. Friendship. Paris. Manhattan. Stephanie Perkins is the queen of the teen romance and has written another wonderful story, this time following the ups and downs of a romance...
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Dec 15 2014

Amelie and Nanette: Sparkly Shoes and Picnic Parties by Sophie Tilley

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Bloomsbury, 2013. ISBN 9781408836637
Amelie and Nanette are very excited. Nanette has a brand new pair of shoes, red and shiny with the prettiest bows. She was just about to give up looking for new shoes when she spotted them on the highest shelf. And Amelie had something new too - a...
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Dec 15 2014

Alfie's Big Wish by David Hardy

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Magabala Books, 2014. ISBN: 9781922142535
(Ages: Lower primary, Middle primary) Highly recommended for small humans around 3 and up. In his second book about Alfie, David Hardy tells the story of Alfie's loneliness after his friends move on with their family and his longing for someone...
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Dec 15 2014

Dragon Jelly by Claire Freedman

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Ill. by Sue Hendra. Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN 9781408838846
(Age: Preschool - K) It's Max's monster party - there are yucky, scary games to play like bouncing on the jumping castle that sprays out gunk and pass-the-parcel which contains something not-quite-nice. There's even a hairy green...
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Dec 15 2014

The Christmas Book by Dick Bruna

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Hardie Grant Books, 2014. ISBN 9781921288814
About forty years ago the first books I bought my firstborn child were Dick Bruna's Miffy, Poppy Pig and I Can Count. So how excited was I to win a copy of The Christmas Book from...
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Dec 12 2014

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

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The Raven Cycle bk 3. Scholastic, 2014. ISBN 9781407136639
(Age: 15+) Highly recommended. The third book in The Raven Cycle carries on the quest for the Welsh King Glendower begun in The Raven boys and...
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Dec 12 2014

Where Bear? by Sophy Henn

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Puffin, 2014. ISBN: 9780723288916
This delightful picture book from a new talent in the industry was a great hit when Small and I read it together on Saturday night. A little boy and a little bear lived together and all was wonderful until they both started to grow and as one might...
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Dec 12 2014

Ten Terrible Dinosaurs by Paul Stickland

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Picture Corgi,2014. ISBN: 9780552572514
The most extraordinary thing about this book - which is great! - is that when I first read it, my immediate reaction was that it was almost identical in its text as one I created for a maths resource when I was at uni doing my teacher's...
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Dec 12 2014

Stolen Girl by Trina Saffioti and Norma MacDonald

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Magabala Books, 2011. ISBN 9781921248252
(Ages: Lower primary) Although this is an older picture book from Magabala's catalogue, the fact that it has now had two reprints testifies to its value in any library collection or indeed home bookshelf.
A fictionalised telling of one girl's...
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Dec 12 2014

Gezani and the Tricky Baboon by Valanga Khoza

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Ill. by Sally Rippin. Ford Street, 2014. ISBN 9781925000740
(Age: Preschool - Yr 3) Gezani lives somewhere in the middle of Africa with his mother and father, grandmother and grandfather, and his twelve brothers and sisters. One day his grandfather asks him to take a bunch of bananas to...
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Dec 12 2014

Found You! by Mardi Davies

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Ford St Publishing, 2014. ISBN: 9781925000665 (hardcover)
(Age: 3+) Highly recommended. Picture book. Mardi Davies has long been involved with creating art for children. As part of Walt Disney Animation Australia's team she has drawn pictures for 8 full-length movies. Her animation...
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Dec 11 2014

Australia's greatest landmarks and locations by Virginia Grant

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Random House Australia, 2014. ISBN: 9780857983886
Highly recommended for readers from 10 - adult and for Years 6-9, History and Social Sciences. Australia's Greatest Landmarks and Locations is the third comprehensive information book in the Australia's Greatest series....
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Dec 11 2014

Poppy Muddlepup's daring rescue by Daisy Meadows

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Magic Animal Friends. Orchard Books, 2014. ISBN 9781408331750
Recommended for ages 6+. In this Bumper Special Edition, three Magical Animal Friends stories are included, telling the tale of Lily and Jess and their delightful adventures to help spell-bound Patch Muddlepup. Goldie...
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Dec 11 2014

The Night before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore

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Ill. by Richard Johnson. Random House 2014. ISBN 9780552569880
'Twas the night before Christmas
When all through the house
Not a creature was stirring
Not even a mouse . . . '
Are there any more recognisable words than these at this time of the year? This poem, written...
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Dec 11 2014

Christmas in Australia by John Williamson

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Penguin, 2014. ISBN 9780670077724
First of all, let me start with my favourite John Williamson story. A long time ago, probably around 1987 or so, I was the leader of a very enthusiastic Brownie Pack in Brisbane and the Save the Koala campaign was kicking in. These little girls...
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Dec 11 2014

Lulu Bell and the Christmas Elf by Belinda Murrell

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Ill. by Selina Geddes. Random House, 2014. ISBN 978857982254
(Age: Newly independent readers) Christmas starts in many families with the decorating of the tree, and it's the same in the Bell household. The smell of pine resin mingled with that of the mangoes in a bowl as together they...
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Dec 11 2014

Everything I Need to Know About Christmas I Learned from a Little Golden Book by Diane Muldrow

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Random House Australia, 2014. ISBN: 9780553497359
So far my reviews of the current crop of Christmas books have focused on those for children. Here's one that would make a splendid gift for a festively frazzled friend!
Taking illustrations from Little Golden Books of the past (and...
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Dec 11 2014

Cooper Bartholomew is dead by Rebecca James

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Allen & Unwin, 2014. ISBN 9781743319239
(Age: 15+) Recommended. Mystery. Drugs. Suicide. Libby, Cooper's girlfriend, has doubts when the official finding states that Cooper Bartholomew's death was a suicide. His body was found at the foot of a cliff, but she had believed that they...
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Dec 11 2014

Elephants Have Wings by Susanne Gervay

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Ill. by Anna Pignataro. Ford Street, 2014. ISBN 9781925000399
(Age: Pre-school - Yr 6) Highly recommended. Bedtime. And that means a bedtime story, a nightly ritual in many homes and especially this one. Snuggled under the covers, the children wait in anticipation as Father begins...
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Dec 11 2014

Celia and Nonna by Victoria Lane

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Ill. by Kayleen West. Ford Street, 2014. ISBN 9781925000603 hbk. ISBN 9781925000610 pbk.
Celia has the most wonderful relationship with her nonna, and her most favourite thing is having a sleepover at Nonna's house. Together they bake and fill the kitchen with delicious smells,...
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Dec 09 2014

A Chick 'n' Pug Christmas by Jennifer Sattler

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Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN 9781599906027
(Age: Preschool - F) It's the night before Christmas and Pug the dog is fast asleep, snug and warm in his Santa suit. But his little mate Chick is chilly - feathers aren't much protection in the snow! Chick is fascinated by Pug's outfit and so Pug...
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Dec 08 2014

Yikes, Santa-Claws by Pamela Butchart

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Bloomsbury, 2014, ISBN 9781408851388
(Age: Preschool - F) It's a refrain heard all over the world on THAT night... 'Santa Claus will soon be here so snuggle up in bed.' So with their stockings hanging on the tinsel-decorated bedpost, the two dinosaur children do just that. But the...
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Dec 08 2014

Just right for Christmas by Birdie Black & Rosalind Beardshaw

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Nosy Crow, 2014. ISBN 9780857631367
'Waste not, want not' is a maxim well-known to those of us raised by parents who themselves grew up in the Depression years. And it's a principle with just as much import in our modern disposal consumer-driven society.
When a king buys a length...
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