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 21 2017

The children of Willesden Lane: a true story of hope and survival during World War II by Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen

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Allen and Unwin, 2017. ISBN 9781760630805
(Age: 13+) Highly recommended. In Austria, following the 1938 Kristallnacht (The night of the broken glass) Malka and Abraham Jura, parents of Rosie, Lisa and Sonia made an indescribably painful choice to save one of their daughters from the evil brutality of Nazism.
Having secured only a single seat on the Kindertransport, these loving parents chose their fourteen year old daughter Lisa, a musical prodigy who dreamed of becoming a concert pianist. Lisa's mother urged that she must 'hold on to her music and let it be her best friend'.
The hearts of all family members were torn when she left on a train via Holland to take refuge in England where Jewish children were accepted if sponsored by a relative. Lisa feared for her family and experienced natural distress caused by separation and feeling displaced in an unfamiliar country. This was made worse when her sponsoring relative essentially abandoned her at the railway station and she found herself assigned as a maid to a wealthy family in the country. Whilst shown kindness by staff, Lisa realised that she could not respect her mother's wish to follow her dream if she stagnated, so the plucky girl left and arranged her own transport to London.
Life became more bearable for Lisa when she was given accommodation at Bloomsbury House, a hostel for a large number of Jewish refugee children of varying ages, run by the kindly Mrs. Cohen. All the refugee children undertook paid work for their support and when Great Britain declared war on Germany, they laboured for the war effort as they anxiously watched Hitler's armies rolling through Europe to threaten from across the Channel.
Reading historical biographies so often causes me to reflect on how stoic and resilient previous generations have been under the most impossible circumstances. I cannot imagine the sense of loss and fear Lisa Jura must have felt during her early adolescence, yet she endured mental and physical exhaustion from long days of demanding work and lack of sleep from nightly bombing during the blitz.
This story centres on the courage and persistence of a child who yearned to fulfil her musical dreams and quickly matured beyond her years in a time of grave uncertainty.
I highly recommend this book for 13 years onwards.
Rob Welsh



More Reviews

Sep 21 2017

I just ate my friend by Heidi McKinnon

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Allen & Unwin, 2017 ISBN 9781760294342
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Friendship. Belonging. Control. A creature tells us that he has just eaten his friend. The look on his face is one of remorse and a little embarrassment as he then goes searching for a new friend. But it is all too hard....
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Sep 21 2017

Sir Scaly Pants and the dragon thief by John Kelly

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Bloomsbury, 2017. ISBN 9781408856062
(Age: 4-7) Recommended. This is the second story about Sir Scaly Pants the Dragon Knight and is just as entertaining as the first. This time the king is kidnapped by an evil...
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Sep 21 2017

Pippa's Island: Cub reporters by Belinda Murrell

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Random House Australia, 2017. ISBN 9780143783688
Life could hardly be more different for Pippa. From a seemingly happy family living in a Victorian terrace house in London to a caravan in her grandparents' backyard on a tropical island off the Australian coast. Forced to make changes...
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Sep 20 2017

His Royal Tinyness : A terrible true story by Sally Lloyd-Jones

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Ill. by David Roberts. Walker Books, 2017. ISBN 9781406324662
(Age: 4-8) Highly recommended. Humour. Siblings. Babies. Told from the point of view of "the most beautifulest, cleverest, ever-so-kindest Princess with long, flowing wondrous hair," this is the tale of a family that was happy...
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Sep 20 2017

Shapes of Australia by Bronwyn Bancroft

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Little Hare, 2017. ISBN 9781760129286
So often we walk around with our eyes open but we don't really see anything. Yes, we see trees and rocks and distant mountains and even birds in the sky but do we ever see the distinctive shapes they make and the patterns within them?
With her...
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Sep 20 2017

Little Shaq takes a chance by Shaquille O'Neal

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Ill. by Theodore Taylor. Bloomsbury, 2016. ISBN 9781619638785
(Age: 6+) Recommended. Themes: Talent; Friendship. Little Shaq loves basketball and he is good at it but is a little worried that he might not be good at art. He doesn't really want to try something new (including trying new...
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Sep 20 2017

A is for Australian animals by Frane Lessac

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Walker Books, 2017. ISBN 9781925381009
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Australian animals, Habitat, Fauna, Distribution. Subtitled, A fantastic tour, this informative book will take kids on a journey through various environments to spy on a huge range of animals that share our continent. While...
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Sep 20 2017

Butterfly we're expecting you by Libby Hathorn

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Ill. by Lisa Stewart. Lothian, 2017. ISBN 9780733416995
(Age: 4+) Gardens, Exploration, Butterflies. Two children go out into the garden to see what they can find. They see a caterpillar and wonder at what it will become, they see a beehive and wonder at the bees inside, making honey,...
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Sep 19 2017

Figgy takes the city by Tamsin Janu

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Scholastic, 2017. ISBN 9781742992006
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. Figgy and her friend Nana win scholarships to attend school in Ghana's big city, Accra. The city is exciting, and full of new friends and adventures. But when Nana begins acting strangely, and disappears, Figgy follows...
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Sep 18 2017

The Pastor's kid by Danielle Weiler

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Ark House Press, 2016. ISBN 9780995391796
(Age: 14+) This book has many good lessons, and is about mostly good people, or at least those who are trying to be good. The 'Pastor's kid', Mattie, is in senior high school in the new town where her father has been sent to work with students....
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Sep 18 2017

The bad bunnies' magic show by Mini Grey

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Simon and Schuster, 2017. ISBN 9781471157608
(Age: 5+) Recommended. Magic. Magicians. Deception. A slight change in plans means that The Great Hypno has been unavoidably detained and is replaced by the two bunnies, Mr Abra and Cadabra. The two bunnies take over the magic show usually put...
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Sep 18 2017

100 things to know about food

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Usborne, 2017. ISBN 9781409598619
This is a fascinating journey through the world of food that will not only appeal to budding young chefs but to anyone who likes to eat. Presented with lots of colourful illustrations with hundreds of simply expressed facts that are readily accessible...
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Sep 18 2017

Two rainbows by Sophie Masson and Michael McMahon

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Little Hare, 2017. ISBN 9781760127794
The little girl looks out from her city window and sees a cloud and part of a rainbow. At first, it seems like it is the only colour in this grey, drab city landscape and she thinks longingly of the rainbows she used to see in the country on the...
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Sep 18 2017

Aussie legends alphabet by Beck Feiner

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ABC Books, 2017. ISBN 9781460709214
(Age: 8 - adult) Highly recommended. A surprise package, Aussie legends alphabet will thrill readers, children and adults alike, as they peruse the select group of famous and worthy Australians chosen to be described in this book. Starting with...
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Sep 18 2017

The list by Michael Brissenden

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Hachette, 2017. ISBN 9780733637421
(Age: Senior secondary, adult) Recommended. Crime, Terrorism, Afghanistan. When young Muslim men on the terrorism watch list turn up dead, Sidney Allen and his partner, Haifa, are sent in to investigate. They are part of the K Block, a section within...
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Sep 18 2017

Alice-Miranda in Hollywood by Jacqueline Harvey

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Alice-Miranda book 16. Random House Australia, 2017. ISBN 9780143780618
(Age: 8+) Highly recommended. Themes: Hollywood, USA: Movies, Friendships, Mysteries. Lights, camera, action, Alice-Miranda and her friends are off to Hollywood and the Grand Canyon in this thrilling new...
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Sep 18 2017

Under the same sky by Britta Teckenrtup

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Caterpillar Books, 2017. ISBN 9781848575868
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Peace, Sharing. Under the same sky reflects the theme that we are all born under the same sky, with the same needs and wants, we share the same feelings even though we are spread across lands far away.
In...
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Sep 18 2017

Why do we need bees? Katie Daynes

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Ill. by Christine Pym. Usborne, 2017. ISBN 9781474917933
Type the title of this book into a search engine and you instantly get millions of results including this video, such is the importance of this tiny creature to the welfare of the world....
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Sep 18 2017

Sometimes by Jessica Love

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Echo Books, 2017. ISBN 9780995436435
Sometimes when you're gone I wonder why your job seems more important to you . . .than me.
Sometimes when you're gone I get upset and angry when you miss things that are important to me.
Sometimes I look at what you do and I realise that you...
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Sep 15 2017

Rodney loses it! by Michael Gerard Bauer

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Ill. by Chrissie Krebs. Omnibus, 2017. ISBN 9781742991900
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Anger, Drawing. Rodney loves to draw, so much so that he draws just about everywhere. He has a range of pens with which to draw, but one is his special favourite. This pen is so special, that he has...
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Sep 15 2017

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

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Tiffany Aching book 1, Discworld book 30. Corgi Childrens, 2017. ISBN 9780552576307
(Age: 10 - Adult) Highly recommended. Fantasy, Locus Award for Best Young Adult Novel (2004), Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Nominee for Childrens Literature (2004) (2016), Parenting Book of the...
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Sep 15 2017

Oi cat! by Kes Gray and Jim Field

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Hodder, 2017. ISBN 9781444932515
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Cats, Rhyme. Oi frog and Oi dog, the previous books in this wonderfully subversive series, tell us that the rules are simple: cats do not sit on mats and dogs do not sit on frogs. These rules have come of...
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Sep 15 2017

Pip and Houdini by J. C. Jones

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Allen and Unwin, 2017. ISBN 9781760296056
(Age: 8+) Highly recommended. Dogs, Running away, Family. A disarming story of dislocation and reunification will grip readers from the start as they follow Pip and her loyal hound Houdini when they run away from home, after she has upset the...
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Sep 15 2017

The City of Secret Rivers by Jacob Sager Weinstein

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Walker Books, 2017. ISBN 9781406368857
(Age: 9+) We stood there for a moment, the drop of water and I. And then we both leapt at once. Hyacinth Hayward has accidently unleashed magical powers flowing under London. The shambling Saltpetre Men have kidnapped her mother and the...
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Sep 14 2017

The explorer by Katherine Rundell

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Bloomsbury, 2017. ISBN 9781408885284
Highly recommended. Like a man-made magic wish, the aeroplane rose into the sky. It did not stay there for long. Fred has always dreamed of becoming an explorer, of reading his name among the lists of great adventurers. But when his tiny plane crashes...
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Sep 14 2017

How to resist: Turn protest to power by Matthew Bolton

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Bloomsbury, 2017. ISBN 9781408892725
(Age: Secondary - Adult) Recommended. Matthew Bolton was Citizen UK's lead organiser for the national Living Wage Campaign whereby different community groups united to win the 'national living wage' for low-paid workers. In this little pocket-sized...
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Sep 13 2017

Leaf by Sandra Dieckmann

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Flying Eye Books, 2017. ISBN 9781911171317
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Polar bears. Climate change. Hope. Difference. An animal floats into the bay, and finds a cave to shelter in. The animals all stay away from him, they have never seen anything like him before, and when he goes out...
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Sep 13 2017

The secret garden and other stories

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Usborne Illustrated classics. Usborne, 2017. ISBN 9781409586562
Usborne have added another volume to their stable of illustrated collections that bring us the myths and legends that have been shared with and enjoyed by children throughout the generations. This collection includes...
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Sep 13 2017

Garcia and Colette go exploring by Hannah Barnaby and Andrew Joyner

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HarperCollins Children's, 2017. ISBN 9781460754306
Garcia the Rabbit and Colette the Fox cannot agree on where they want to go exploring - Garcia is fixated on space while Colette wants to see the sea. With no agreement in sight they agree to go their separate ways. Garcia builds a...
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Sep 13 2017

Literature to Support the Australian Curriculum Book 2 - Annotated Lists of Fiction and Poetry by Fran Knight and Pat Pledger

cover imagePledger Consulting, 2017. ISBN 9781876678531
Highly recommended. This book contains literature to support the Australian Curriculum. It contains annotated lists that cover...
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Sep 13 2017

Paper cranes don't fly by Peter Vu

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Ford Street Publishing, 2017. ISBN 9781925272765
(Age: 15+) Highly recommended. Knowing someone with a terminal illness can be a challenge at any age. But when it's your best friend and you're just finishing high school? It can change everything.
Adam has been sick ever since he was...
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Sep 13 2017

Gap year in Ghost Town by Michael Pryor

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Allen and Unwin, 2017. ISBN 9781760292768
(Age: 13+) Highly recommended. Ghosts. Humour. Melbourne. Anton Marin lives with his father in Melbourne. The Marin family own a small bookstore and he has taken a gap year, trying to decide if he will join the family business of ghost hunting....
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Sep 13 2017

Third Witch by Jackie French

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Angus and Robertson, 2017. ISBN 9780732298531
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. Themes: Macbeth; Shakespeare; Power and ambition; Royalty. Shakespeare's Macbeth is an incredibly powerful story of the insidious impact of uncontrolled ambition, drawing the main characters into a...
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Sep 13 2017

Poe stories and poems: A graphic adaptation by Gareth Hinds

cover imageCandlewick Press, 2017. ISBN 9780763681128
(Age: Secondary) Highly recommended. Themes: gothic horror, death, disease, insanity, loss, confinement. Edgar Allan Poe's classic gothic horror stories and poems remain popular, particularly The Raven 1845. In this collection of four story...
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Sep 12 2017

The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson

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Scholastic, 2017. ISBN 9781407170992
(Age: 10-14) Highly recommended. 'Goldfish Boy' is the nickname given to Matthew by one of the visiting grandchildren of a neighbour. Matthew is in his own form of goldfish bowl, staying in his bedroom night and day, staring out of the window, looking...
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Sep 12 2017

Theatre of life: photographic portraits by Alex Frayne

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Wakefield Press, 2017. ISBN 9781743054949
(Age: Secondary - Adult) Highly recommended. This is a fascinating book. The collection of photographs truly capture the 'theatre of life' - with expressions, fleeting moments, iconic scenes, and portraits that make you gaze again at the...
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Sep 12 2017

On the night of the shooting star by Amy Hest and Jenni Desmond

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Walker Books, 2017. ISBN 9781406377330
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Friendship. Borders. In this fable for modern times, Dog and Bunny live next to each other. They carry on their own lives, doing what each does: Dog loves to knit and sits in the garden knitting and listening to his...
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Sep 12 2017

Toto: the dog-gone amazing story of the Wizard of Oz by Michael Morpurgo

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Ill. by Emma Chichester Clark. Harper Collins, 2017. ISBN 9780008134594
(Age: 8+) Highly recommended. When I had my sixth birthday my older sister gave me an illustrated copy of The Wizard of Oz and I immediately fell in love with the story. This poor book (which I still have)...
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Sep 12 2017

Ready, steady, hatch by Ben Long

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Ill. by David Cornish. Ford Street, 2017. ISBN 9781925272536
Way down yonder in the pumpkin patch, ten little eggs were beginning to hatch. As they did, they danced and twirled - it was time to go and see the world. But the last little chick gets distracted by a large cherry, unseen by...
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Sep 04 2017

Literature to support the Science Curriculum Foundation - 7 by Fran Knight and Pat Pledger

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Pledger Consulting, 2016. ISBN 9781876678470
Following the same layout as some of their previous Australian Curriculum publications, the authors provide lists of...
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Aug 27 2017

Literature to support the Australian curriculum: Annotated lists of fiction and poetry Book 2 by Fran Knight and Pat Pledger

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Pledger Consulting, 2017. ISBN 9781876678531
Recommended as a teacher reference for both Junior and Senior School libraries and English faculties. This teacher resource book makes the book selection work of Teacher Librarians and English teachers much easier. It contains summaries of...
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Aug 13 2017

Literature to support the Australian curriculum - Annotated lists of fiction and poetry Book 2 by Fran Knight and Pat Pledger

cover imagePledger Consulting, 2017. ISBN 9781876678531
Teacher reference. Highly recommended for educators and teacher librarians. Subjects: Fiction, Books and reading,...
more

Feb 02 2017

Literature to support the Science curriculum Foundation -7 by Fran Knight and Pat Pledger

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Pledger Consulting, 2016. ISBN 9781876678470
Highly recommended for educators. Subjects: Science curriculum; Fiction; Annotated bibliography. Fran Knight and Pat Pledger continue to write first-rate reference tools for teachers in primary school education, which focus on key curriculum...
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Feb 21 2016

Fiction gems: Recommended fiction lists for Upper Primary and Lower Secondary students by Fran Knight and Pat Pledger

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Pledger Consulting, 2016. ISBN 9781876678456
Teacher reference. What a great resource for those charged with purchasing or recommending reading material for Upper Primary and Lower Secondary students. The Middle School aged reader can have specific interests or reading demands and keeping...
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