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

Nov 01 2014

A-Z of convicts in Van Diemen's Land by Simon Barnard

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Text Publishing, 2014. ISBN 9781922079343
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. This encyclopedia is a wonderful book that brings to life the history of the convict period in Tasmania from 1803 to 1853. The 73,000 convicts who arrived in the colony, lived lives that were largely hidden from us till now. Simon Barnard has used his wonderful drawing skills to bring to life and faithfully depict the people, their suffering, achievements, activities and the buildings, where they lived and worked.
Each alphabetically listed item, starting with 'absconder' has detailed, accurate and fascinating details of the convicts. I was especially drawn to the many three dimensional drawings of buildings, and activities. The artist-author used primary documents such as convict personal records and building plans to illustrate each facet of history. A drawing of a 'hulk' for example, is accompanied by personal stories, the daily routine, hardships on board, the role of staff, and the construction of the vessel. A whole page, the pages are very large, is devoted to 'leg irons' and demonstrates how they were constructed, the various parts, their use, and peculiarities. There are also double page illustrations of a 'penal station', 'shipyard', and 'treadmill'. Each page is filled with curious related facts and stories, and even includes a brief description of my convict ancestor, William Westwood, who managed to escape past the Eaglehawk Neck dog-line.
This rich and fascinating book is an extremely valuable addition to the historical knowledge of convict Australia.  
A map, glossary, index and bibliography are included at the end.
Paul Pledger

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Nov 01 2014

The beach they called Gallipoli by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley

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HarperCollins, 2014. ISBN 9780732292263
(Age: 8+) Highly recommended. World War One, Gallipoli, War, Environment. Kitted out with army uniform, great boots and a bayoneted rifle, fifteen year old Alec Campbell stares out at the reader from the front cover of Jackie French's latest...
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Nov 01 2014

The Books of The Raksura series by Martha Wells

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Night Shade Books, various dates.
The Cloud Roads. 2011. ISBN 9781597802161
The Serpent Sea. 2012. ISBN  9781597803329
The Siren Depths. 2012. ISBN 9781597804400
(Age: 15+) Highly recommended. Fantasy. Belonging. Moon has been hiding all his life....
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Nov 01 2014

Jessica's Box by Peter Carnavas

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New Frontier Publishing, 2014. ISBN 9781921928574
(Ages 4-6) Highly recommended. School Life, Integration, Family, Friendship. Peter Carnavas has worked with the Cerebal Palsy Alliance to recreate his award winning picture book Jessica's Box.
Jessica is a creative little...
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Nov 01 2014

Sally Snicker's knickers by Lynn Ward

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Ill. by Anthea Stead. Walker, 2014. ISBN 9781921720499
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Verse, Underwear, Humour, Difference. Sally is unusual and likes to wear her knickers on her head in preference to a hat. The first half of the book shows her in her knicker wearing guise, with vibrant images...
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Nov 01 2014

No stars to wish on by Zana Fraillon

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Allen & Unwin, 2014. ISBN 9781743315149
(Age: 12+) This is a strange and disturbing story. For a number of reasons I hesitate to recommend this book to a wide audience. It is clear that the author wishes to convey to the reader an understanding of the torturous lives led by many...
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Nov 01 2014

Grandma, the baby and me by Emma Allen

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Ill. by Hannah Sommerville. Scholastic, 2014. ISBN 9781862918733
(Age: 4+) Siblings, Babies, Grandparents. The confusion of an older sibling at the introduction of a new baby into a household is given a fresh approach in this story. Henry's grandmother has warned there will be trouble...
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Nov 01 2014

Let's Play by Gabriel Alborozo

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Allen & Unwin, 2014. ISBN 9781743316283.
(Age: Early childhood) It's been a strange week - one of those ones where something you rarely think about keeps popping up in front of you. No one on this planet could ever describe me as musical - when that talent was given out I was...
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Nov 01 2014

Paper planes by Allayne Webster

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Scholastic, 2014. ISBN 978174299699
(Age: 11+) Recommended. War, Serbia, Yugoslavia. Huddled in their bombed apartment, collecting water from a council pipe, and burning everything they find to make fuel to cook their sparse amount of food, Niko and his family come to a decision to try...
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Nov 01 2014

The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi

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Ill. by Robert Ingpen. Walker Books, 2014. ISBN: 9781922244048
Highly recommended for ages 8 and above. Having never previously read Collodi's Pinocchio but relied only on the Disney version; this book came as something of a surprise. Pinocchio, from his beginnings as a lump of wood, was...
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Oct 30 2014

Tashi and the wicked magician by Anna Fienberg and Barbara J Fienberg

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Ill. by Geoff Kelly and Kim Gamble. Allen & Unwin, 2014. ISBN 9781743315088
(Age: 6+) Highly recommended. Tashi, Friendship, Adventure.
The classic tales of Tashi are continued in this volume of four stories, designed to augment the store of these wonderful stories for those...
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Oct 30 2014

The Head of the Saint by Socorro Acioli

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Translated by Daniel Hahn. Hot Key Books, 2014. ISBN 9781471402906
(Age: Adolescents - Adults) Highly recommended. The cover and title both suggest the unusual content of this novel, and the reader is not disappointed. The story begins with a young boy who is desperately trying to get to...
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Oct 30 2014

Al Capone does my homework by Gennifer Choldenko

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Hot Key Books, 2014. ISBN 9781471402869
(Age: 10+)Recommended. In 1935 Matthew 'Moose' Flanagan's family move to Alcatraz Island so that his father can work as a guard and his older sister, Natalie, who has autism, can attend a special school in San Francisco. Alcatraz is a very...
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Oct 30 2014

Oh dear, what can the matter be? by P. Crumble

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Ill. by Simon Williams. Scholastic, 2014. ISBN 9781743622377
For readers from 4-6 years of age. P. Crumble's back again with an Aussie take on an old song - Oh dear, what can the matter be? Instead of old ladies locked in the lavatory, the author's set this story on the farm. With...
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Oct 30 2014

A beginner's guide to the periodic table by Gill Arbuthnott

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Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN 9781472908858
(Age: 10+) Recommended. Non fiction, Science, Periodic table. From atoms and neutrons to elements, the big bang and all things between, this detailed book gives all ninety two elements a place. With all of them listed along with their name, symbol and...
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Oct 30 2014

The ugly duckling by Frank Loesser

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Ill. by Nathaniel Eckstrom, performed by Justine Clarke. Scholastic, 2014. ISBN 9781742836447
(Age: 4+) Picture book, Folk tale, Performance With a CD inside the front cover, this version of Hans Christian Anderson's Ugly duckling, gives a fresh approach for use in the classroom....
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Oct 30 2014

Siblings: Brothers and sisters of children with disability by Kate Strohm

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Wakefield Press, 2014. ISBN 9781743052334
(Age: For adults) Highly recommended. As with any Wakefield Press publication, the standard of production is excellent and the subject matter is relevant and interesting. This book makes an important contribution to the discussion of siblings who...
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Oct 30 2014

Crooked Leg Road by Jennifer Walsh

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Allen & Unwin, 2014. ISBN 9781743316931
(Ages: 12+) The four friends in this adventure have met previously in Jennifer Walsh's earlier book, The Tunnels of Tarcoola. The formula is sure to be a winner for young readers; there is plenty of action, the setting is local and...
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Oct 29 2014

Vivian versus America by Katie Coyle

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Vivian Apple Bk 2. Hot Key Books, 2014. ISBN 9781471403446
(Age 14+) Highly recommended. Science fiction. Dystopian fiction. Religion. Capitalism. In this sequel to Vivian versus the Apocalypse, Vivian Apple and her friend Harp have made it to the city only to find that...
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Oct 29 2014

This book is gay by James Dawson

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Hot Key Books, 2014. ISBN 9781471403958
(Age: Senior students, adults) Highly recommended. This book is gay and very frank. It lays out its LGBTI qualifications with its rainbow flag colours. This is a book for LGBTI adolescents and their friends and family. It is also a very...
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Oct 29 2014

Gezani and the tricky baboon by Valanga Khoza

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Ill. by Sally Rippin. Ford St., 2014. ISBN 9781925000740
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Africa, Baboons, Deception. Gezani is told to take some bananas to his cousins in the next village. He dances along with the bowl of fruit on his head, singing as he goes, but he attracts the attention of the...
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Oct 29 2014

Foulsham by Edward Carey

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Iremonger book 2. Hot Key Books, 2014. ISBN: 9781471401619
(Age: 13+) Highly recommended. 'The blackness. The blackness. It wasn't night. It wasn't night at all, it was fire. Fire! Foulsham was on fire. Whole streets of it must have gone up by then, great gusts of black smoke, not...
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Oct 29 2014

My little star by Mark Sperring

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Ill. by Nicola O'Byrne. Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN 9781408849613
(Age: 3+) Recommended. Animals, Bedtime story. At the end of the day when the moon rises, the stars appear and children are about to go to sleep, the time is ripe for a soft and gentle story to be read aloud to the child,...
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Oct 29 2014

Big bouncy bed by Julia Jarman

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Ill. by Adrian Reynolds. Orchard Books, 2014. ISBN 9781408305430
(Age: 3-5) Recommended. Picture book. Ben and Bella are back again, this time they jump into another adventure, on a big, bouncy bed and they invite their animal friends to join in. This is a fun read aloud story that uses...
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Oct 29 2014

Regal Beagle by Vijay Khurana

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Ill. by Simon Greiner. Random House Australia Children's, 2014. ISBN: 9780857983701
Highly recommended for readers 7-9 particularly, both boys and girls. What a delight it was to spend a few moments reading this delightful nonsensical piece of whimsy from Vijay Khurana at the end of a...
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Oct 29 2014

Captain Kangaroo saves the day by Mandy Foot

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Lothian, 2014. ISBN 9780734415141
(Ages 3-9) Highly recommended. It's been a long, hot, dry summer in the Aussie outback - and today its bushfire weather.
Captain Kangaroo knows what to do though, so he and the fireys spring into action to stop this fire from becoming a 'wopper'....
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Oct 28 2014

The Cleo stories by Libby Gleeson

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Ill. by Freya Blackwood. Allen & Unwin, 2014. ISBN 9781743315279
(Age: 5+) Highly recommended. Family life, Short stories, Birthdays. It's not often I come across a story that is so well written and illustrated that I turn back and read it again. This is such a one. Gleeson's hero,...
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Oct 28 2014

Trial by fire by Josephine Angelini

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Macmillan Children's Books. 2014. ISBN 9781447260820
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended.'I'm a Witch, and Witches burn'. Lily Proctor is an accident waiting to happen. Living in Salem seems to be the worst thing she could do to herself, as she is allergic to virtually everything. It is always...
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Oct 28 2014

Captain Underpants and the Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo Toilet 2000 by Dav Pilkey

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Scholastic, 2014. ISBN 9781743625989
(Ages 7 - 13) Highly recommended. Captain Underpants series is back in its 11th instalment. Dav Pilkey hasn't changed a thing in the way he delivers an action packed ridiculous adventure with the most unlikely of heroes and villains so obscure...
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Oct 28 2014

Hurry up Alfie by Anna Walker

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Scholastic, 2014. ISBN 9781742839912
(Age: 3-5) Highly recommended. Alfie is too busy having an exciting time to get dressed, much to his father's despair. He loves to play with his cat Steve McQueen, hide under his quilt cover, practice his handstands and hand from the door frame. He is...
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Oct 28 2014

Found You! by Mardi Davies

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Ford Street Publishing, 2014. ISBN 9781925000665 (hardcover). ISBN 9781925000672 (paperback)
(Ages 3-5) Recommended. Picture book. Found You! is a lively debut picture book written and illustrated by Mardi Davies a talented animator and graphic designer. Her creativity is evident...
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Oct 28 2014

Ghost House by Alexandra Adornetto

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HarperCollins, 2014. ISBN 9780732299330
(Age: 15+) Recommended. 'Alex is more real than anyone I've ever known. And him being dead . . . really doesn't change a thing.' When Chloe Kennedy was young her mother taught her to tell the ghosts to leave her alone. Now with her mother dead...
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Oct 28 2014

Wheelnuts! Craziest Race on Earth! Desert Dust Up by Knife and Packer

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Scholastic, 2014. ISBN 9781743625262
(Age: 8+) Highly recommended. Cars, racing and cartoons are three huge drawcards for the new Knife and Packer series, Wheelnuts! Craziest Race on Earth! Desert Dust Up combines cartoon-style image and a crazy car race - almost like a computer...
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Oct 28 2014

Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot vs The Mecha-Monkeys from Mars by Dav Pilkey

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Scholastic, 2014. ISBN 9780545630122
Highly recommended to boys aged 7+. Colourful images and minimal text tell the story of a mouse called Ricky Ricotta whose best friend is a mighty robot. The opening scenes have them skateboarding down the street and in trouble with Ricky's parents....
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Oct 27 2014

Paper planes by Allayne Webster

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Omnibus Books, 2014. ISBN 978174299699
(Age 11-13) Recommended.
'If they bomb us while we're asleep,
Will we wake up dead?'
Paper planes is a fiction chapter book. It is about a boy named Niko, his family and his best friend Nedim and how bombs are raining down on them...
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Oct 27 2014

Rania: This is the book of you by Randa Abdel-Fattah

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Scholastic, 2014. ISBN 9781742990118
(Ages: 8-12) Highly recommended. Jealousy. Family relationships. Friendship. Rivalry. Schools. When Raina's aunt and uncle and two cousins move closer she is thrilled. An only child, she is pleased to have relations close at hand, especially...
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Oct 27 2014

Bella Dancerella series by Poppy Rose

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ABC Books, 2014
Bella Dancerella loves to dance ISBN 9780733332456
Bella Dancerella: Ballet school ISBN 9780733332463
Bella Dancerella: Concert night ISBN 9780733332470
Bella Dancerella: The big test ISBN 9780733332487
(Age: 5-8) Bella loves...
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Oct 27 2014

Terror kid by Benjamin Zephaniah

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Hot Key Books, 2014. ISBN 9781471401770
(Ages: 14+) Recommended. Justice. Terrorism. Hacktivism. Cyber. Rico Federico is a teenage boy who is a die-hard computer hobbyist, having four computers of his own built from discarded hardware, and hacks websites constantly. He lives in...
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Oct 27 2014

Dragon jelly by Claire Freedman

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Ill. by Sue Hendra. Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN 9781408838846
(Ages: 2-8) Highly recommended. Max is having a monster party and all his monster friends are invited. The party will have all the usual party attractions, pass the parcel, a magician, a jumpy castle, paddling pool, hide and seek...
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Oct 27 2014

EJ Spy School: Deep water by Susannah McFarlane

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Lemonfizz Media, 2014. ISBN 9781921931642
(Age: 7+) EJ Spy School: Deep water is part of the EJ Spy School series and is a great first novel for girls aged 7+. At 43 pages long, the story is a quick read and gives budding readers a chance to move away from the 'reader box'....
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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...
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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

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 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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