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 22 2020

The biscuit maker by Sue Lawson

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Illus. by Liz Anelli. Walker Books, 2020. ISBN: 9781760650438.
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. A wonderful sense of place is aroused with the biscuit maker and appreciative audience settled firmly on the front cover against a street of houses. The houses are repeated on the endpapers, several streets worth, with the houses drawn as children might draw them, without perspective. A lovely touch, I thought, and loving maps as I do, evoked an immediate response to the setting.
Eventually opening the book, after my mind trawled through the discussions I would have with the children listening to the story, I was intrigued with the direction the story took. Not just a story about grandmas and children baking, but a beautiful tale of coming together, of neighbours, neighbourhood and friendship. Benedict Stanley and his cat, Audrey Mae, say good morning and hello to the passers-by each day but they are too busy to notice and hurry past, jogging or going to work or reading a paper. So Benedict and his cat tend their garden until their legs weary and they must rest. A boy walks past telling them that the tooth fairy will visit him overnight. Benedict goes inside and cooks him some celebratory biscuits, leaving them on his doorstep. After this he cooks biscuits for many of the people in his street, and people begin to wonder who the biscuit maker is. One day, Benedict takes to his bed and the biscuits stop coming. People are concerned about what has happened to the biscuit maker, and why the biscuits have stopped. When Audrey Mae yowls outside Rory's house he realises something is wrong. He and other neighbours knock at Benedict's door, bringing food to him. As Benedict and Rory share a cake or two, the neighbours tuck into the garden, doing the sorts of things Benedict would have done if he were feeling better. The neighbourhood bustles with friendship and helping each other as they ready themselves for a New Year's Eve street party.
This wonderful story of finding friends, of communicating with your neighbours, of community, of watching out for the elderly, will warm the hearts of the readers, especially apt after the year we have had with its emphasis on helping those living nearby.
Each page shows a different facet of life in the street: kids getting ready for the grand final, a kitten falling from a rooftop, one family having triplets, a child who has lost a tooth. All happen within the neighbourhood but it is only Benedict who is aware of the range of incidents and acts upon them. Anelli offers us a crowded street scene, full of life and events, fascinating and detailed, a range of ages and backgrounds, of families and house styles, all prompting the reader to look at their own neighbourhood with renewed eyes.
Anelli's mixed media illustrations sing with friendship and cooperation, showing a disinterested neighbourhood coming to life when one person makes an effort. Benedict shows what can be done with the smallest of gestures, eliciting a response from those living next door, reviving the old community spirit that has lapsed. The book exhorts us to reignite the spirit of cooperation between neighbours. Children will love seeing the different aspects of street life, and single out the range of biscuits made by Benedict, turning to the back of the book for the recipe to try out for themselves. Teacher's notes are available.
Theme: Friendship, Neighbours, Cooperation, Community, Biscuits.
Fran Knight



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Oct 22 2020

Across the risen sea by Bren MacDibble

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Allen & Unwin, 2020. ISBN: 9781760526054.
(Age: 11+) Highly recommended. Marta, Neoma and Jag are going to the sunken city to scavenge what they can from the tall buildings, now mostly underwater. Curious and ferociously independent, Neoma takes the stairs, excited by the writing on...
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Oct 22 2020

Funny Kid: Belly flop by Matt Stanton

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HarperCollins, 2020. ISBN: 9780733340604.
(Age: 7+) Recommended. This is the latest novel in the Funny Kid series by author-illustrator Matt Stanton. Max is the funny kid in his class, always looking for a laugh.
This book starts with a week to go until the annual school...
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Oct 22 2020

Blood and honey by Shelby Mahurin

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Serpent and dove series, book 2. Harper Teen 2020, ISBN: 9780063041172
(Age: 15+) As the sequel to Serpent and dove (Blood and honey is the second in the series), this review may contain spoilers for the first book for those who have not read it. A descriptive and...
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Oct 21 2020

Of boys and boats by Ian Trevaskis

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Ford St Publishing, 2020. ISBN: 9781925804515.
(Age: 12-14) Highly recommended. The Olympic Games in Melbourne in 1956 form the backdrop for this extraordinary story about a group of friends. Jack (who suffers from asthma) and Percy (whose legs have been affected by polio) have always...
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Oct 21 2020

The great realisation by Tomos Roberts

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Illus. by Nomoco. Harper Collins Australia, 2020. ISBN: 9781460759806.
(Ages: 7+) Recommended. First performed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, this poem has been viewed over 60 million times and translated into over 20 languages. The young author, UK spoken-word poet freelance...
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Oct 21 2020

Puffin Little Historian: The Anzacs

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Penguin Random House Australia, 2020. ISBN: 9781760897024.
Recommended. The ANZACs is one of 6 in the new series, Puffin Little, celebrating 80 years of Puffin. These books return to the publisher's roots of non-fiction books educating children about world events. Each book...
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Oct 21 2020

Old man Emu by John Williamson

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Illus. by Simon McLean. Penguin Random House Australia, 2020. ISBN: 9781760898793.
(Ages: 3-7) This picture book adaptation celebrates 50 years since the release of iconic Aussie singer-songwriter John Williamson's hit song Old Man Emu. After recently publishing book versions...
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Oct 20 2020

Meet Dooley on the farm by Sally Odgers and Christina Booth

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Aussie Kids. Penguin, 2020. ISBN: 9781760893682.
(Age: Beginning independent readers) Recommended. Meet Dooley on the farm is one of 8 books in the new series Aussie Kids published by Penguin Random House. This wonderful series has been very well thought out with...
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Oct 20 2020

Troubled blood by Robert Galbraith

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Cormoran Strike, book 5. Little Brown, 2020. ISBN: 9780751579949. 944 pp.
(Age: Adult - Senior secondary) Highly recommended. Although a massive 944 pages, fans of the series will be rivetted by the complex plotting and relationships in Galbraith's latest offering. Strike and...
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Oct 20 2020

Peppa loves the Great Barrier Reef by Peppa Pig

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Penguin, 2020. ISBN: 9780241457542.
Peppa loves the Great Barrier Reef is a story based on the popular children's TV show Peppa Pig, and seems to be part of a new range of Peppa Pig books aimed at Australian fans.
In this title, Peppa and her family visit their friend...
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Oct 20 2020

Older by Pamela Redmond

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Hachette, 2020. ISBN: 9780733645372
This story is written as a sequel to Redmond's earlier novel,Younger, the book that was the foundation of a highly popular television series in the USA. Redmond's follow-up novel takes us into her adult life, the choices she makes and the...
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Oct 19 2020

Future Girl by Asphyxia

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Allen & Unwin, 2020. ISBN: 9781760294373.
(Age: Middle to senior secondary) Recommended. Irene McBride is Organicore's chief scientist, overseeing the nutritional value and health supplements in Recon, artificial food replacements regularly delivered to 65% of the Australian population....
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Oct 19 2020

Hermit by S. R. White

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Headline, 2020. ISBN: 9781472268419.
(Age: Senior secondary/adult) Highly recommended. Dana Russo and Nathan Whittler, one the detective and the other the suspect, are both damaged people. In both cases their families have significantly affected their personalities and the way they...
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Oct 19 2020

Ten minutes to bed: Little Unicorn's Birthday by Rhiannon Fielding and Chris Chatterton

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Penguin, 2020. ISBN: 9780241453162.
(Age: 3-10) Recommended. Little Unicorn's Birthday is a gorgeous book that really captured my 6-year-old daughter. She has previously loved other books in this series...
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Oct 15 2020

Hollowpox: The hunt for Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

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Hatchette Australia, 2020. ISBN: 9780734418241.
(Age: 9+) Highly recommended. Hollowpox: The hunt for Morrigan Crow is the third book in the popular Nevermoor series written by young Queensland author Jessica Townsend. Readers of...
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Oct 15 2020

Julian at the wedding by Jessica Love

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Walker Books, 2020. ISBN: 9781406397482.
(Age: 3+) Highly recommended. American author illustrator,Jessica Love won deserved praise for her debut picture book, Julian is a mermaid (2019) and this will be reprised...
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Oct 15 2020

Maths Mutts: All about time by Charles Hope

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Wild Dog, 2020. ISBN: 9781742035994.
(Age: 6+) Highly recommended. All about time is one of two titles in the Maths Mutts series by Charles Hope. It is a beautifully presented non-fiction book encouraging young children to learn about the Maths concept of time in a...
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Oct 15 2020

There's something weird about Lena by Sigi Cohen

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Illus. by James Foley. Walker Books, 2020. ISBN: 9781760651503.
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. With intricate digital illustrations to pour over, kids will laugh uproariously as the story unfolds, leading the audience to think about what Lena actually is. Her strange behaviour, playing...
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Oct 15 2020

The Windsor diaries 1940-45 by Alathea Fitzalan Howard

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Hodder & Stoughton, 2020. ISBN: 9781529328097.
The author of the diaries (edited by her niece-in-law Isabella Naylor-Leyland to whom they were bequeathed) was born in 1923 to an aristocratic Catholic British family. She would have been the next Duke of Norfolk had she been a...
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Oct 14 2020

Norton and the Bear by Gabriel Evans

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Berbay Publishing, 2020. ISBN: 9780648785132.
(Ages: 3-8) Highly recommended. Intricate, delicate illustrations accompany this story about individualist Norton (a poodle living in what has the feel of a French village). He finds a jumper that is very different to what everyone else is...
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Oct 14 2020

Catvinkle and the missing tulips by Elliot Perlman

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Ill. by Laura Stitzel. Puffin Books, 2020. ISBN: 9781760894382.
(Age: 9-11) Recommended. This is the second book in the Catvinkle series, following The adventures of Catvinkle published in 2018 as Elliot Perlman's first...
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Oct 13 2020

Colin Cockroach goes to Caloundra by Chris McKimmie

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Ford St Publishing, 2020. ISBN: 9781925804553. (Age: 4+) Highly recommended. When Colin decides to follow the smell coming from upstairs, he embarks on a wonderful holiday north of Brisbane, unwittingly hitching a ride with the family which has left because of the cockroach infestation. They...
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Oct 13 2020

Show me the money by Sue Lawson and Karen Tayleur

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Wild Dog, 2020. ISBN: 9781742035895.
(Age: 8+) Recommended. Show me the money is a contemporary non-fiction publication which gives the reader a detailed look at Australia's money. The Contents page clearly sets out the topics for an easy search for the required information. The...
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Oct 12 2020

A clock of stars: The shadow moth by Francesca Gibbons

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Illus.by Chris Riddell. HarperCollins, 2020. ISBN: 9780008355036.
(Young Adult / Children). Highly recommended. A brilliant new fantasy author has been found in Francesca Gibbons. Her debut novel A clock of stars: The shadow moth, aimed at older children and younger teens, is a...
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Oct 12 2020

Aussie Kids: Meet Matilda at the festival by Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern

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Illus. by Tania McCartney. Puffin, 2020. ISBN: 9781760894511.
(Age: 6+) Highly recommended. Eight stories in the Aussie Kids series, each set in one of the states and territories of Australia, will appeal to those who have just achieved competency at reading chapter books. Each of...
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Oct 12 2020

Combat Wombat to the rescue by Gina Newton

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Illus. by Tiffanee Daley. Ford Street Publishing, 2020. ISBN: 9781925804577.
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Combat Wombat to the rescue is a beautifully illustrated picture book about Australian animals trapped in a bushfire. They are led to safety by Combat Wombat Wildlife Warrior who...
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Oct 12 2020

The secret garden: the story of the movie by Frances Hodgson Burnett and Linda Chapman

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HarperCollins, 2020. ISBN: 9780008340070. 224pp., pbk.
First published in 1911, The secret garden is the story of Mary, a sickly, neglected, unloved and unwanted 10-year-old girl whose care has been mostly left to the servants who care for her English family in colonial India....
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Oct 12 2020

Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis

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Penguin, 2020. ISBN: 9780241397046.
(Age: 15+) Recommended. Ideal for Halloween, this thriller/horror story is one that will keep readers glued to the page as they follow the trials of Lola Nox, the daughter of a horror filmmaker. With her father is founded with multiple stab wounds, she...
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Oct 12 2020

Piper picks the perfect pet by Caroline Tuohey

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Illus. by Nicole Johnston. Ford St Publishing, 2020. ISBN: 9781925804591.
(Ages: 3+) Highly recommended. Starting the book with the lines,
My Dad says I can chose a pet
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Oct 12 2020

Chickensaurus by James Foley

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S.Tinker Inc. series. Fremantle Press, 2020. ISBN: 9781925815788.
(Age: Primary) Recommended. Chickensaurus is the fourth book in the S.Tinker Inc. series that follows the tales of Sally Tinker and her gang as they invent a plethora of wondrous things (including robots,...
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Oct 12 2020

What Zola did on Wednesday by Melina Marchetta

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Illus. by Deb Hudson. Puffin, 2020. ISBN: 9781760895174.
(Age: 6+) Highly recommended. What Zola did on Wednesday is the third story in the humorous and entertaining Zola series. Zola lives with her Mum and Nonna Rosa and is very busy with the garden project after school on...
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Oct 09 2020

Watch over me by Nina LaCour

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Text Publishing, 2020. ISBN: 9781922330604.
(Age: 15+) Highly recommended. After being in the foster system since her mother abandoned her, 18-year-old Mila is looking forward to her job, teaching a young, home-schooled child on a farm. She is desperate for a home, a place where she can...
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Oct 09 2020

Santa and the Sugar Glider by Alexa Moses

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Illus. by Anil Tortop. Lothian Children's Books, 2019. ISBN: 9780734419521.
(Age: 3+) Recommended. Santa and the Sugar Glider is an appealing Christmas story written for younger children. Snap, the littlest glider in the rainforest, is longing to do something important but all...
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Oct 09 2020

The Tindims of Rubbish Island by Sally Gardner

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Illus. by Lydia Corry. Zephyr, 2020. ISBN: 9781838935672.
The Tindim family of smaller than usual stature, live together on Rubbish Island where they recycle all they find. Introducing the family as the story unfolds gives Gardner plenty of scope for her humorous telling and daughter...
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Oct 08 2020

The stolen prince of Cloudburst by Jaclyn Moriarty

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A Kingdom and Empires. Allen & Unwin, 2020. 536pp. ISBN: 9781760875060.
(Age: 9-12) Highly recommended. Esther returns to start year 6 at Katherine Valley Boarding School. All the giggling girls are delighted by their new teacher, Mrs Pollock. Two of Esther's best friends...
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Oct 08 2020

Back to sleep by Zoe Foster Blake

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Illus. by Mike Jacobsen. Puffin, 2020. ISBN: 9781760897901.
(Age: 4+) With Dad being carried by his child on the front cover, readers will know they are in for a hilarious tale about the problems involved with getting children to bed. This perennial fly in the family ointment is a cause...
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Oct 08 2020

Esmeralda's nest by Robert Moore

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Illus. by Mandy Foot. Midnight Sun Publishing, 2020. ISBN: 9781925227666.
(Ages: 2-5) Recommended. Accomplished illustrator Mandy Foot has teamed up with the diversely talented Robert Moore on this book about a Saddleback sow preparing a nest for her soon-to-be-born piglets. Interesting...
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Oct 08 2020

Peppa's spooky Halloween by Neville Astley and Mark Baker

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Penguin Random House, 2020. ISBN: 9780241412268.
(Age: 3+) Peppa Pig celebrates all things Halloween with her family in this timely picture book released by Ladybird Books, part of Penguin Random House. Peppa and George are with Granny and Grandpa Pig at Halloween. Peppa asks to do...
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