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.
New Member sign up button

Latest Review

Oct 17 2018

Tales from the inner city by Shaun Tan

cover image

Allen and Unwin, 2018. ISBN 9781760523534
(Age: middle school to adult) Highly recommended. Themes: Design, Cities, Animals. Twenty five stories about the relationship between humans and animals is explored in this richly illustrated book from Tan, a companion volume to Tales from Outer Suburbia (2008) and one Tan has been working on ever since. Every page has something startlingly new, making the reader pause and read again, then pore over the illustrations, making sure they have absorbed every nuance, before starting again.
His last chapter begins, "We tell each other the same story" but the details of Shaun Tan's stories are entrancing. His sometimes dystopian view of the city and its relationship with animals is highly individual, placing animals in the oddest of settings: crocodiles living on the eighty seventh floor, an eagle in an airport, deer peering out of an office window, making us question. One of the first sequences in the book, "Once we were strangers", devotes forty pages to a dog, at first wary of the human with a spear in one hand, but over time becoming a companion, ending as a dog on a lead walking with its human. The illustrations reflect the passage of time. The broad strip between the human and the dog begins as a wide black expanse, the void of the early cosmos perhaps, then it becomes a track, changing to a bridge, a railway line, a road, and finally the double page is fully paved. Time has passed, reflecting the changes in our environment as well as the changed relationship between humans and animals.
Shaun Tan talks about his work providing insight into his book as he provokes, prods and perplexes his readers.
Each of his works in this volume initiates a response, the richly illuminated and detailed images giving more as the reader looks, ponders and talks about what they see. The almost poetic text forces the reader to read it again, viewing the illustration with new ideas, evaluating the links between the two.
People and animals may live in each other's shadow, but they are still very visible in Tan's work, from the tiger strolling by the similarly coloured wall on the last endpaper, or the rhino watching over the traffic or the killer whale in the night sky.
Light in various forms is shown to advantage: city lights on the front cover, the coloured light of the crowds of butterflies, the light behind the snails on the bridge, the light pouring in through the classroom windows, the light coming out of the high rise flats, contrasting with the many dark and gloomy images redolent of a dystopian landscape, stressing the tension within the city, leading to the last page of the book with its apocalyptic image.
The inner city is shown in images of crumbling high rise buildings, homeless people, train tracks, telegraph poles and animals, all giving a different perspective than the one expected. The teacher in the classroom is hugging a sheep, the boy on the cover holding a glass fish, owl's eyes peer out at the reader from the hospital ceiling, a bear is led up the steps, a shark rises up out of the landscape, but unlike the lonely vistas of Jeffrey Smart's cities, Tan's images of the concrete structures force the reader to reevaluate the connection between human and beast.
I found this book totally captivating, sometimes unsure that I had missed something, but always satisfied at the myriad of references, allusions and journeys down unexpected pathways that Tan takes his readers.
Teacher notes can be found on the Allen and Unwin site.
Fran Knight



More Reviews

Oct 17 2018

Just flesh and blood by Jane Caro

cover image

University of Queensland Press, 2018. ISBN 9780702260018
(Age: Children - Young adult) Recommended. Themes: Historical Fiction (1500-1600 England Royalty). Just Flesh and Blood is the last novel in the Trilogy which include...
more

Oct 17 2018

How did I get here? by Philip Bunting

cover image

Omnibus, 2018. ISBN 9781742769684
(Age: 5+) Highly recommended. Themes; Life, Evolution, Big bang, Universe, Solar system, STEM. Young readers will find this straightforward presentation of life on earth enlightening and informative, as Bunting explains how life began, encouraging them...
more

Oct 17 2018

Whimsy and Woe: The Final Act by Rebecca McRitchie

cover image

Angus and Robertson, 2018. ISBN 9781460754672
(Age: 10+) Recommended. "As a blazing inferno rages through Whitby City. Whimsy and Woe Mordaunt see their last clue go up on flames and their journey to find their parents has seemingly come to a fiery end. That is until the siblings spot a...
more

Oct 17 2018

The 13th reality: Hunt for Dark Infinity by James Dashner

cover image

The 13th Reality series. Scholastic, 2018 ( First published by Simon and Schuster in 2008). ISBN 9781742998190
(Age: 11+) Recommended. Themes: Fantasy; Alternate realities; Adventure; Heroism. Atticus Higginbottom (best known as Tick to his friends) has again been needed to...
more

Oct 17 2018

Lemonade Jones by Davina Bell and Karen Blair

cover image

Allen and Unwin, 2018. ISBN 9781925266733
(Age: 6+) "There are a lot of rules that don't interest Lemonade Jones.
No running in the classroom, not even in an emergency.
Dangerous animals should be in cages. No biting. (Not even your worst enemy)
It's especially hard to...
more

Oct 17 2018

Dinosaur day out by Sara Acton

cover image

Walker Books, 2018. ISBN 9781760650049
(Age: 2-6) Recommended. Themes: Dinosaurs, Museums. Dinosaur Day Out by author/illustrator Sara Action will entertain and excite its young audience with a multi-layered approach. While we read the story of Sally and Max's day out with Dad...
more

Oct 16 2018

Inheritance by Carole Wilkinson

cover image

Black Dog Books, 2018. ISBN 9781760650360.
(Age: 12-14) Highly recommended. Themes: Australian history. Aboriginal peoples. Time travel. Family histories.
"Generations of women in my family have been able to time travel... " Nic (Veronica) tries to explain to her only friend in her...
more

Oct 16 2018

His name was Walter by Emily Rodda

cover image

HarperCollins, 2018. ISBN 9781460710203
(Age: 10-14) Highly recommended. Themes: Storytelling. Books and reading. Mystery and suspense stories. Folk tales. Supernatural phenomena.
The idea was to do some research for an authentic History lesson in an historic outback town, but what...
more

Oct 16 2018

The amazing world of Olobob Top by Leigh Hodgkinson and Steve Smith

cover image

Bloomsbury, 2018. ISBN 9781408897652
(Age: 3-5) The amazing world of Olobob Top is an activity book created by Leigh Hodgkinson and Steve Smith based on the ABC and BBC Children's show Olobob Top (If you have young children there is a good chance you will have seen this show...
more

Oct 16 2018

Crowboy by Ricky Gibson

cover image

Serenity Press, 2018. ISBN 9780648230427
(Age: 6-9) Recommended. Themes: Differences. Acceptance. Need a book for Halloween? Here is one that might work, that is neither too dark, nor too grim!
Crowboy is not like the other children. He has tried to fit in and be like them... but he...
more

Oct 16 2018

What should a horse say? by Fleur McDonald and Annie White

cover image

New Frontier, 2018. ISBN 9781925594201
(Age: 2-5) Themes: Farm animals. Horses. Farmer Rochelle's farm is filled with noisy animals, all mooing, baaing and even clucking "chick chick". However, she has one big problem, her horse also says "chick chick"! She asks her friend Farmer Hayden...
more

Oct 15 2018

From Elizabeth Mary Cummings, author of The Forever Kid

cover image

A lifelong bookworm, English was my favourite subject at school. I studied Psychology and Business Studies at University before doing a postgraduate in Primary School teaching. I discovered my passion for teaching and my love of working with young people.
Recently I have focused on...
more

Oct 15 2018

The Forever Kid by Elizabeth Mary Cummings

cover image

Ill. by Cheri Hughes. Big Sky Publishing, 2018. ISBN 9781925675399
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Themes: Grief, Remembrance, Loss. The Forever Kid is about remembering a child who will never grow up. The family in the story celebrate the memory of the child who is no longer with...
more

Oct 15 2018

The Botanist's Daughter by Kayte Nunn

cover image

Hachette, 2018. ISBN 9780733639388
(Age: Senior secondary - Adult) Starting a little slowly, yet creating two worlds that have no defining link, this novel is captivating, rich in depiction of the past, and cleverly interspersing the two stories. The title suggests a story of a family...
more

Oct 15 2018

The A-Z of Wonder Women by Yvonne Lin

cover image

Hachette, 2018. ISBN 9781526361547
(Age: 8+) Recommended. Subjects: Women - Biography. Award-winning industrial designer Yvonne Lin is a leader in creating innovative products for women. She designed The A-Z of Wonder Woman for her young daughter Roni introducing her and other...
more

Oct 15 2018

The Orphan Band of Springdale by Anne Nesbet

cover image

Candlewick Press, 2018. ISBN 9780763688042
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. Gusta loved the golden sound of her horn, the way the notes could make you ring like a bell, from your hair bow to your toes. Its music was so large and grand. She was quiet by nature, but the horn was the bravest...
more

Oct 15 2018

Collecting sunshine by Rachel Flynn

cover image

Ill. by Tamsin Ainslie. Penguin 2018. ISBN 9780143785187
(Age: 1-4) Recommended. Themes: Childhood; Play; Memories. An early childhood book with two central characters who go to a park with a paper bag ready to gather their own collection of treasures. When it rains the bag breaks, but...
more

Oct 12 2018

Inside the tiger by Hayley Lawrence

cover image

Penguin Books, 2018. ISBN 9780143788959
(Age: Senior secondary) Recommended. Themes: Justice system, capital punishment, social action, friendship, family, grief, loss. Bel Anderson is the 17 year old daughter of the Minister for Justice and has attended an exclusive girls' boarding...
more

Oct 12 2018

Ting Ting the Ghost Hunter by Gabrielle Wang

cover image

Penguin, 2018. ISBN 9780143787334
(Age: 9-12) Recommended. Themes: Ghosts, Chinese mythology, Sorcery. Ting Ting the Ghost Hunter is the much awaited sequel to Gabrielle Wang's Ghost in My Suitcase. These wonderful stories bring to life Chinese culture, ancient mythology...
more

Oct 12 2018

I went trick-or-treating by Paul Howard

cover image

Bloomsbury, 2018. ISBN 9781408892886
(Age: All) Recommended. I went trick-or-treating by Paul Howard is a wonderful holiday specific story that will appeal to readers of all ages. It adds to the popular I went . . . series which includes a Christmas special with Santa and...
more

Oct 12 2018

The Christmas tale of Peter Rabbit by Emma Thompson

cover image

Ill. by Eleanor Taylor. Frederick Warne, 2018. ISBN 9780241352885
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Themes: Christmas, Poultry. Emma Thompson, the renowned actress, has written another tale about Peter Rabbit in this board book, beautifully illustrated by Eleanor Taylor. Peter is very excited...
more

Oct 11 2018

The girl with the dragon heart by Stephanie Burgis

cover image

Bloomsbury, 2018. ISBN 9781408880777
(Age: 8-12) Recommended. Themes: Fantasy, Dragons, Fairies, Good and Evil.
"Once upon a time in a beautiful, dirty, exciting city full of people and chocolate and possibilities, there was a girl so fearless and so daring that. . "
Stephanie...
more

Oct 11 2018

There's a baddie running through this book by Shelly Unwin and Vivienne To

cover image

Allen and Unwin, 2018. ISBN 9781760630614
(Age: Preschool+) Recommended. Themes: Humour, Books, Robbers and outlaws, Theft.
There's a baddie running through this book,
Turn the pages; have a look.
There he goes, did you see?
Sound your siren, chase with me.
...
more

Oct 11 2018

Saffy and the sneaky secret summoning by Annabel Cutler

cover image

Little Steps, 2018. ISBN 9781925545029
(Age: 3+) "Join Little Saffy as she goes about her sneaky secret mission. She is determined to summon the almighty dragon and she will most certainly not let anything stand in her way." (Publisher)
This is a delightful story about Saffy, who...
more

Oct 11 2018

The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie: 100th Anniversary Edition by May Gibbs

cover image

HarperCollins, 2018. ISBN 9781460756218
A century ago, as the war that had shaken the world and shattered so many families was finally drawing to a close, an Australian artist who specialised in satirical cartoons and social commentary gave the world her now-iconic work about Snugglepot...
more

Oct 11 2018

At the end of Holyrood Lane by Dimity Powell

cover image

Ill. by Nicky Johnston. EK Books, 2018. ISBN 9781925335767
Flick lives at the End of Holyrood Lane in a little house beneath the beech woods, spending most of her days in the sunshine dancing with the butterflies and playing with her unicorn toy and long, rainbow ribbon. But sometimes a...
more