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

Jul 21 2019

Detention by Tristan Bancks

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Puffin, 2019. ISBN: 9780143791799.
(Age: 11+) Highly recommended. With chapter headings marking the passing minutes, this fast-paced novel takes place within one confronting morning - as a young refugee girl on the run from detention crosses paths with a boy trying to rescue a brutalised dog. Sima and her family make the break amid a group of fifty, aided by activists who cut through the wire fence around an Australian detention camp, but in the panic of pursuit she is separated from her parents and knows she just has to keep running, hoping to eventually be reunited with them and relatives in a place called Leeton. Dan is a dishevelled caravan park kid, reluctantly on his way to school, when he comes across a chained up dog covered in wounds. His plans to carry back some water for the dog are frustrated when the school goes into lock-down, as armed Border Force police search the grounds for fugitive refugees. Dan sees the girl in hijab hiding in the toilet block.
Thus, Dan is thrust into a moral dilemma, should he turn the girl into the authorities? Sima says that her family is about to be deported to danger. Out of fear of torture and death, her parents have made the desperate decision to flee, carrying with them her baby sister. She needs help to get to Leeton to find them again. Dan knows that means he will be breaking the law, aiding her carries severe penalties . . . but maybe sometimes the law is wrong. How can it be right to imprison children? How can his country send families to danger? Sima's fate rests in his hands - what should he do?
There are many heart-stopping moments as the two are forced to make quick decisions about who they can trust, and where they can go, always with danger close behind. Whilst the book reads like a fast-paced thriller, the characters are very real, particularly the character of Dan, struggling to keep his life together in a situation that reflects loneliness and neglect, but who is capable of thinking and caring more deeply than his peers. He faces a moral dilemma that challenges ideas of right and wrong, good and bad . . . It is a thought-provoking story, really well written, with a satisfying and realistic conclusion. Teacher's notes are available.
Helen Eddy



More Reviews

Jul 21 2019

The wych elm by Tana French

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Penguin Books, 2018. ISBN: 9780241379516.
(Age: 16+) Recommended. Themes: Murder, Psychological thriller, Bullying. What an unusual stand-alone mystery - who put a body found deep in a wych elm? Toby was a lucky man, handsome and popular, until one night he was assaulted at home and left...
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Jul 21 2019

Spot's fire engine by Eric Hill

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Puffin, 2019. ISBN: 9780241382486.
(Age: 1-4) Recommended. Board book. Themes: Fire engines. Subtitled Sound book with flashing light Spot's fire engine is described as a book and toy in one by the publisher. It is a very robust book featuring the ever popular Spot, this...
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Jul 19 2019

When the ground is hard by Malla Nunn

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Allen and Unwin, 2019. ISBN: 9781760524814.
(Age: 13+) Highly recommended. Themes: Racism, Colonialism, Swaziland, South Africa, Friendship, Jane Eyre, Bullying, Crime. Adele, living in a coloured community in colonial Swaziland is lucky. Her white father supports his family, visiting...
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Jul 19 2019

The quiet at the end of the world by Lauren James

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Walker Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781406375510. 352p; p/b.
(Age: 13+) Highly recommended. Themes: Science fiction, Dystopian fiction, Romance, Viruses, Diversity. How far would you go to save those you love? After a virus devastated the world and left people infertile, Lowrie and Shen are the...
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Jul 19 2019

Wombat, Mudlark and other stories by Helen Milroy

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Fremantle Press, 2019. ISBN: 9781925815818.
(Age: 6-10) Recommended. Themes: Short Stories; Emotional intelligence; Natural world; Dreaming stories. The author, Helen Milroy, is a descendant of the Palyku people of the Pilbara region in Western Australia; she is also a doctor in the...
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Jul 18 2019

All that impossible space by Anna Morgan

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Hachette Children's Books, 2019. ISBN: 9780734419637.
(Age: Teens) Highly recommended. All that impossible space blends one of Australia's greatest mysteries with the typical drama of teenage girls at an all-girls school. This combination makes conversation about the Somerton man...
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Jul 18 2019

Goodbye house, hello house by Margaret Wild

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Illus. by Ann James. Allen and Unwin, 2019. ISBN: 9781743311103.
(Age: 3+) Highly recommended. Themes: Change, Moving house, Families. When the young girl must leave the family farm and move to the city she wanders through the house and its environs saying goodbye as she goes. She...
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Jul 18 2019

Devils unto dust by Emma Berquist

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Greenwillow, 2018. ISBN: 9780062642783.
(Age: 14+) Recommended. Themes: Zombies, Coming of age, Adventure, Western, Dystopian fiction. Adventure galore, a Western setting, zombies, some heartbreak and a great heroine - what more could a reader want to while away a few hours?
Willie...
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Jul 17 2019

Bad crab by Amelia McInerney

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Illus. by Philip Bunting. Omnibus, 2019. ISBN: 9781742994475.
(Age: 3+) Highly recommended. Themes: Fish, Crabs. Retribution, Friendship. When Bad Crab bites his friends, the Fish, the Octopus and Seahorse, they quickly retire to the wall above the Crab and hide behind a concrete ball....
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Jul 17 2019

Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips

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Scribner, 2019. ISBN: 9781471185861.
(Age: 15 to Adult) Highly recommended. Set over the course of a year, each of the twelve chapters examines a month in the lives of different women and their families, all intricately connected by the disappearance of two young girls. This remarkable...
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Jul 17 2019

Roald Dahl's colours illustrated by Quentin Blake

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Penguin Books, 2019. ISBN: 9780241370315.
(Age: 1-5) Highly recommended. Board book. Themes: Colours. Another stunning board book featuring the captivating illustrations by Quentin Blake from Roald Dahl's stories for older children. These will make the book familiar to adults reading it...
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Jul 17 2019

Rabbit's hop by Alex Rance

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Illus. by Shane McG. Allen and Unwin, 2019. ISBN: 9781760524449.
(Age: 3-8) Recommended. Themes: Friendship, Persistence, Self-Belief. This is AFL player Alex Rance's second book and it features a couple of the characters from his first,...
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Jul 16 2019

A good girl's guide to murder by Holly Jackson

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Electric Monkey, 2019. ISBN: 9781405293181.
(Age: 13+) Highly recommended. Themes: Mystery, Thriller, Murder, Diversity, Friendship. What a compelling mystery - one that was almost impossible to put down! Pippa Fitz-Ambobi decides to investigate the murder of schoolgirl Andie Bell as her...
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Jul 16 2019

Lunchbox express by George Georgievski

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Plum, 2019. ISBN: 9781760784904.
(Age: 9 - Adult) Recommended. The cover promises 'healthy kids' lunches in 5 minutes' and the book delivers 30 days of kids' lunchboxes, beautifully illustrated with full page pictures of the featured lunches. There is something here for even the...
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Jul 16 2019

Secrets of a schoolyard millionaire by Nat Amoore

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Penguin, 2019, ISBN: 9780143796374.
(Age: 8-12) Themes: Wealth, Millionaires, Money, Humour. What would you do if you found a million dollars? Would you help your family, your friends and classmates? Ten-year-old Tess Heckleston is the middle child in a rather chaotic family, her dad...
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Jul 16 2019

Up to something by Katrina McKelvey

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Illus. by Kirrili Lonergan. EK Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781925335705. 32pp., hbk.
A sign on the door of the hardware store catches Billy's eye - it's for a great billycart race! It doesn't matter that Billy doesn't have a billycart because he has heard his Dad banging, drilling and sawing in...
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Jul 15 2019

A grain of hope by Nicola Philp

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Illus. by Aldy Aguirre. Publishink Press, 2019. ISBN: 9780648348641.
(Age: 5+) Recommended. Themes: Refugees, Dogs, War, Abuse. Picking up a small publisher's book is always fraught for a reviewer. Sourcing that book can be difficult for a librarian with limited time so other...
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Jul 15 2019

A nearly normal family by M. T. Edvardsson

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Macmillan, 2019. ISBN: 9781529008135.
(Age: senior secondary to adult) Recommended. Themes: Sweden, Crime, Family. The Sandell family seems to have it all. Adam is a pastor in the Church of Sweden, Ulrika is a successful lawyer and their daughter Stella is a vibrant student and athlete....
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Jul 15 2019

How to build the perfect cubby house by Heath McKenzie

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Scholastic Australia, 2019. ISBN: 9781760152673.
(Age: 4-8) Recommended. Themes: Families, Cubby Houses, Diversity. Heath McKenzie (illustrator of Andy Lee's Do Not Open This Book series and author/illustrator of a whole swag of picture books) has created this happy celebration of...
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Jul 15 2019

Alice-Miranda keeps the beat by Jacqueline Harvey

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Alice-Miranda book 18. Penguin, 2019. ISBN: 9780143786030.
(Age: 8-12) Recommended. Themes: School life, Fund-raising, Festivals, Mystery. Jacqueline Harvey's extremely popular Alice-Miranda series returns for the eighteenth time in Alice- Miranda keeps the Beat....
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Jul 15 2019

Nits! by Stephanie Blake

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Gecko Press, 2019. ISBN: 9781776572243.
(Age: 4+) Themes: Nits, Classroom behaviour, Friendship, Humour. A disarmingly simple text tells the reader of the friendship between Simon and Lou. Simon loves Lou but she loves Mamadou. Simon is quite upset at seeing Mamadou kiss Lou, but when...
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Jul 12 2019

To the Moon and back by Bryan Sullivan with Jackie French

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Angus and Robertson, 2019. ISBN: 9781460757741.
(Age: 12-Adult) Highly recommended. Themes: Space Travel; Moon landing; Astronomy; Space History; Science History; Technology. This edition of To the Moon and Back has been released in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the first...
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Jul 12 2019

The rest of the story by Sarah Dessen

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Balzer and Bray, 2019. ISBN: 9780008334390.
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. Themes: Family, Friendship, Self-perception, Class structure, Anxiety. Sarah Dessen does it again - The rest of the story has all her wonderful hallmarks, beautiful writing that grabs the reader straight...
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Jul 12 2019

Dream Riders : Frankie by Laura Bloom and Jesse Blackadder

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Walker Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781760650513.
(Age: 10-12) Recommended. Themes: Horse-riding, family relationships, friendship, bullying. Laura Bloom and Jesse Blackadder's Dream Riders series focuses on an alternative riding school the Pocket of Dreams, where riders learn to...
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Jul 12 2019

Paint with magic by Sandi Wooton

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Illus. by Pat Kan. Big Sky Publishing, 2019. ISBN: 9781922265098.
(Age: 4-8) Themes: Painting, Sea Animals, Rhyming Story. This is a first picture book for poetry writer Sandi Wooton and her poetic story is the perfect accompaniment to Pat Kan's vibrant painted illustrations. This was...
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Jul 12 2019

Kisses in your heart by Sonia Bestulic

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Illus. by Nancy Bevington. Big Sky Publishing, 2019. ISBN: 9781925675924.
(Age: 2-7) Themes: Love, Comfort, Emotions, Rhyming Book. Similar to The Kissing Hand, this Australian publication reminds us that we carry the ones who love us wherever we go and can draw on that love for...
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Jul 11 2019

Young dark emu, a truer history by Bruce Pascoe

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Magabala books, 2019. ISBN: 9781925360844.
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. Non-fiction. Pascoe's revelatory book Dark emu, black seeds has now been made into a simplified illustrated hardback version for younger...
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Jul 11 2019

No baths week by Katrina McKelvey

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Illus. by Cheri Hughes. Big Sky Publishing, 2019. ISBN: 9781925675429.
(Age: 3-7) Themes: Bathing, Pets, Play. This is a fun, colourful adventure about Ben and his best mate Bandit (his dog) and their mission to avoid the bathtub for an entire week. The best part about this is the...
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Jul 11 2019

Hey baby! by Stephanie Warren Drimmer

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National Geographic Kids, 2019. ISBN: 9781426329319. 192pp., hbk.
'In every corner of the Earth - from the Arctic to Australia, from ocean depths to mountain tops, from dry deserts to lush rain forests - tiny tots are learning to find their way in a big beautiful world.'
But these...
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Jul 11 2019

My real friend by David Hunt

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Illus. by Lucia Masciullo. ABC Books, 2019. ISBN: 9780733334894. 32pp., hbk.
Rupert is William's imaginary friend, a role he is quite happy to have because they do so much together. Make music, paint pictures, play games . . . it's all great fun except for two things. He never gets to...
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