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 15 2019

Dad's wishing the rain would come by Martine Miller

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Illus. by Fiona Levings. Little Steps Publishing, 2019. ISBN: 9781925545845.
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Themes: Australia, Outback, Drought, Family, Survival. The harshness that surrounds the farm house, the cracked earth, the almost empty dam tell the readers that they are in drought country, an Australian landscape that is parched and seriously dry. But it's not only Dad wishing for rain again: it's all the animals they see in their journey around the farm. The cattle, eating their hay dropped off over the fence, the chooks scrapping at the red dirt next to Mum's sparse vegetable garden, the birds hanging from the trees with outstretched wings, the boy wanting rain, Mum wanting the sheets to dry without being covered in dust.
Everyone on the farm wants rain, and by the end of the story when rain does fall, all the readers will be parched, feeling like one of the farmers, wishing for rain. The story so often heard on our continent, tells a familiar tale but told with a background of one family's anguish and wishing. The whole family is together in wanting rain, and all for quite different reasons, as all facets of their lives are impacted by the lack of rain. The illustrations parallel the concerns of the family, the red dust permeating everything, the parched looks on all the animals telling the story of need, the vast horizons showing us the lack of grass, feed and water. But rain changes the landscape immeasurably, bringing smiles back onto the faces of the family and the animals, Dad able to hep Mum plant the next lot of vegetables, all the animals lolling about in the new green grass which follows the rain.
A timely picture book which will underline the plight of those who live in the country, may encourage students to think about water and its lack, a looming problem for the world and its people.
Fran Knight



More Reviews

Oct 15 2019

Invisible boys by Holden Sheppard

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Fremantle Press; 2019. ISBN: 9781925815566. 344p; p/b.
(Age: 15+) Recommended. Charlie, Zeke and Hammer each struggle to come to grips with their homosexuality in a small, conservative town. Invisible boys is a highly character-driven story, so it's only natural that the...
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Oct 15 2019

Hapless hero Henrie by Petra James

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Illus. by A. Vi. House of heroes series. Walker Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781760650834.
(Age: 10+) Recommended. Themes: Adventure, Gender, Humour. Twelve-year-old Henrie was totally unexpected, no girl had been born for over two hundred years into the Melchior family, only boys. After...
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Oct 15 2019

Girl Geeks: Making Magic by Alex Miles

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Penguin, 2019. ISBN: 9780143795087.
(Age: 9-12 years). Themes: Friendship, Computers, Coding, Technology, STEM, Drama, Arts, Costume & Design, Problem Solving. Making Magic by Alex Miles is the fourth book in the Girl Geeks series. It is written in conjunction with...
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Oct 15 2019

Minor Mage by T. Kingfisher

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Argyll Productions, 2019. ISBN: 9781614505006. 174p.
(Age: 13-Adult) Recommended. Themes: Magic, Drought, Coming of age. Oliver is a minor mage with the ability of being able to cast only a few spells, including the ability of tying shoelaces together and a pushme pullme spell. He is...
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Oct 14 2019

Step sister by Jennifer Donnelly

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Hot Key Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781471407970.
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. Themes: Fairy tale retelling, Stepsisters, Bullying, Redemption, Feminism. I'm very fond of the retelling of fairy tales and this one kept me reading to finish it in a couple of sittings. Award winning author...
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Oct 14 2019

Africa Day by Chi Mary Kalu

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Illus. by Jelena Jordanovic-Lewis. Little Steps Publishing, 2019. ISBN: 9781925839197.
(Age: 5+) Highly recommended. Themes: Africa, African food and culture, Community, Family. Brisbane based lawyer, Chi Mary Jalu has written a book about a special market day focussing on African...
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Oct 14 2019

The Girlhoods by Hilary Rogers

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Girltopia, book 3. Scholastic Australia, 2019. ISBN: 9781742994604.
(Age: 10-12). Highly recommended. Themes: Girls, Friendship, Political power, Epidemics. The third book in the Girltopia series, following...
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Oct 14 2019

Timothy the worm by Helen Reynolds

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Illus. by Natasha Hagarty. Little Steps Publishing, 2019. ISBN: 9781925839036.
(Age: 4+) Worms, Recycling. Timothy the worm has lived all his life in a compost bin at the bottom of the garden, where the gardener keeps him happy, piling his garden scrapes into the bin. One...
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Oct 14 2019

A different land by Paul Jennings

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Illus. by Geoff Kelly. Allen and Unwin, 2019. ISBN: 9781760528720. 128 pg.
(Age: 9+) Highly recommended. Themes: Resilience, Migration, Courage, Loneliness, Humour. Standing on the platform watching a steam train pull away but with no one there to meet them, Mum (Pat), her son...
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Oct 11 2019

Return of the Temujai by John Flanagan

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Brotherband, book 8. Random House, 2019. ISBN: 9780143785941.
(Age: 11+) Highly recommended. Themes: Action; Adventure; Conflict; Teamwork. John Flanagan writes with an amazing flair for tension and action-adventure stories for young adults who have grown up on video-game...
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Oct 11 2019

If you're out there by Katy Loutzenhiser

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Balzer + Bray, 2019. ISBN: 9780062865670. 320p. Hbk.
(Age: 13+) Recommended. Themes: Friendship, Mystery, Romance, Social media. An engrossing story featuring female friendship and a mystery is sure to engage both fans of suspense and those who like a romance. Zan is devastated when her...
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Oct 11 2019

The Very Hungry Caterpillar's Christmas Eve by Eric Carle

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A lift-the-flap book. Penguin, 2019. ISBN: 9780241350249. 12p.
(Age: 1-4) Recommended. Themes: Christmas. What fun to meet the very hungry caterpillar again, this time haunting a house that is getting ready to celebrate a snowy Christmas. The reader is encouraged to lift the...
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Oct 11 2019

Goodnight, little tough guy by Michael Wagner

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Illus. by Tom Jellett. Harper Collins, 2019. ISBN: 9780733339356.
(Ages: 2-6) Highly recommended. Bedtime story. This is the ultimate bedtime story; a joy to read, soothing to the ear and nourishing for both adult and child. It reminds us at the end of a hard, busy day of the extreme...
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Oct 11 2019

The adventures of Anders by Gregory Mackay

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Allen and Unwin, 2019. ISBN: 9781760632076.
(Age: 7+) This large book contains the first three graphic novels about Anders and his friends, by author and illustrator Gregory Mackay celebrating friendship, adventure and creativity. In the first,...
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Oct 10 2019

The most ungrateful girl in the world by Petra James

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Illus. by Anna Zobel. Penguin Random House Australia, 2019. ISBN: 9780143793670.
(Age: 8-10). Recommended. Themes: Friendship, Gratitude, Mystery and suspense, Competition, Manners, Secret service. Ten-year-old Izzy Winkle seems to be surrounded by people who have talent. She is on the...
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Oct 10 2019

Armageddon by Jack Heath

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Liars, book 5, Scholastic, 2019. ISBN: 9781742993430.
(Age: 12+) Recommended. Themes: Espionage, Terrorism, Adventure, Truth and lies. Jarli and his friends are at the pointy end of the Liars drama series. The truth App that Jarli created is of limited help in the face of...
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Oct 10 2019

Australian sea life by Matt Chun

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Hardie Grant Egmont, 2019. ISBN: 9781760504694. 36pp, hbk.
Even though Australia is surrounded by ocean, not everyone has the chance to visit it regularly and even fewer have had the opportunity to explore it as a scuba diver and really see the diversity of life under the waves. (Believe...
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Oct 10 2019

Give me back my bones! by Kim Norman

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Illus. by Bob Kolar. Walker Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781406384932. 40pp., hbk.
A stormy night and the fast-flowing ocean current has uncovered and scattered the pirate's skeleton all over the seabed and he is desperate to put himself back together. And with clever language and a rollicking...
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Oct 10 2019

All of the factors of why I love tractors by Davina Bell

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Illus. by Jenny Lovlie. Little Hare, 2019. ISBN: 9781760501457. 32pp., hbk.
Frankie McGee is very excited because today's the day he goes to the library with his mother and he can borrow another book about tractors - his favourite thing in the whole world. And no matter how much his mum...
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Oct 09 2019

Wolf girl by Ahn Do

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Allen and Unwin, 2019. ISBN: 9781760525095.
(Age: 9+) Highly recommended. Themes: Wolves, Adventure, Survival. When Dad crashes the car in their effort to flee the city and the bombs, he tells her to run and not look back, they will follow her. She does so, realising after a while that...
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Oct 09 2019

The girl in the mirror by Jenny Blackford

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Eagle Books, 2019. ISBN: 9780648194521.
This is a story set in two different times, where two girls find each other through a modern mirror. Their lives are so different, and it is this difference that reveals new worlds for each of them, that enhances their ideas, and cements a...
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Oct 09 2019

Disgusting McGrossface by Rove McManus

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Scholastic Australia, 2019. ISBN: 9781760665357. hbk.
(Age: 4-8 Recommended. Themes: Monsters, Habits, Mythical creatures, Personal hygiene. The child who tells this story has a very fertile imagination and uses it to go into amazing detail to explain to his parents that there is a...
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Oct 09 2019

Little Puggle's song by Vikki Conley

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New Frontier, 2019. ISBN: 9781912076345.
Little Puggle's Song by Vikki Conley is pretty picture book that tells the story of Puggle (a baby echidna) and how he cannot find his voice.
It follows a fairly familiar storyline where the main character wants to be like everyone...
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Oct 09 2019

The very hungry caterpillar's Australian friends by Eric Carle

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Penguin, 2019. ISBN: 9780241401583.
(Age: 2-5) Highly recommended. Lift-the-flap board book. Themes: Australian animals. A beautifully illustrated lift the flap book will delight young children, as they explore the seaside and landscape of Australia searching to see what lives behind the...
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Oct 09 2019

The ANZAC billy by Claire Saxby

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Illus. by Mark Jackson and Heather Potter. Black Dog Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781925126815.
(Age: 6+) Highly recommended. Themes: Anzac, Christmas, Home, War. A little known event during World War One was the sending of billy cans from Australia to Gallipoli for the Anzacs during their...
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Oct 08 2019

The prom by Saundra Mitchell and others

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Penguin, 2019. ISBN: 9780241428214.
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. Themes: LGBTQI people, Dating, Prejudices. The prom is an emotional rollercoaster set within the constraints of a religious and largely intolerant small town. It follows Emma who is in her senior year at high...
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Oct 08 2019

Hunter by Jack Heath

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Allen and Unwin, 2019. ISBN: 9781760527082.
(Age: Adult/Senior secondary) Highly recommended. Themes: Death, Cannibalism, Humour, Detective story, Texas, Riddles. Waiting for the next body, Timothy needs a quiet moment in the bush before the delivery but stumbles over a body hidden in...
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Oct 08 2019

Under the same sky by Robert Vescio

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Illus. by Nicky Johnston. New Frontier Press, 2019. ISBN: 9781925594676.
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Themes: Friendship, Isolation. Two lone children, on opposite sides of the world, crave friendship. Each is alone. One is a more affluent city dweller with his own space, a desk and lamp in...
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Oct 08 2019

Being black'n chicken, and chips by Matt Okine

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Hachette, 2019. ISBN: 9780733641688.
(Age: 14+) Recommended. Themes: Humour, Adolescence, Sexuality, Cancer, Grief, Racism. Written by Ghanaian-born, Australian stand-up comedian, Matt Okine, this book makes for a hilarious read, while at the same time dealing with serious subjects such...
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Oct 08 2019

Oops, I've told a little lie! Chrissie Perry

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Illus. by Pete Petrovic. Blabbermouth book 2. Scholastic, 2019, ISBN: 9781760663223.
(Age: 8+) Recommended. Themes: Personality, Truth, Dogs. Chrissie Perry's Blabbermouth series chronicles Amelie Anderson's life as she tries to control her most embarrassing trait,...
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Oct 08 2019

Arabella and the magic pencil by Stephanie Ward and Shaney Hyde

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Exisle, 2019. ISBN: 9781925820010. 32pp., hbk.
Arabella was the only child of a duke and duchess who doted on her and enabled her to be granted one special wish each year. So far she had wished for a pink puppy, an amusement park, even a real-life fairy. The one thing she did NOT wish...
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Oct 04 2019

Beast by Bill Bennett

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Palace of Fires, book 3. Penguin, 2019. ISBN: 9780143783824.
(Age: 12+) Recommended. Beast is the third instalment in the Palace of Fires series and follows the empowerment of a previously average girl to the leader of Cygnet, an organisation of white witches trying...
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Oct 04 2019

Macca's makeover by Matt Cosgrove

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Scholastic Australia, 2019. ISBN: 9781760669195. hbk.
(Age: 4-8) Highly recommended. Themes: Alpacas, Self-perception, Individuality. The Macca the Alpaca has been a very popular series with children and adults of all ages. This is the fifth book and I think it is the best...
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Oct 04 2019

A home for Luna by Stef Gemmill and Mel Armstrong

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New Frontier, 2019. ISBN: 9781925594843. 32pp., hbk.
On a cold, moonlit night a dark crate washes up on a lonely shore, and out crawls a bedraggled, lonely cat, wary of her surroundings so different from the home she remembers, but glad to be out of the ceaseless motion of the sea. ...
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Oct 04 2019

Children who changed the world: Incredible true stories about children's rights! by Marcia Williams

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Walker Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781406384109. 40pp., hbk.
Have you heard of Malala Yousafzai? What about Baruani Ndume? Or Ryan Hreljac?
Forty years ago the UN declared that 1979 was to be the International Year of the Child and as part of that. in 1989, the United Nations Convention on...
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Oct 04 2019

A curious menagerie: Of herds, flocks, leaps, gaggles, scurries, and more! by Carin Berger

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Greenwillow Books, 2019, ISBN: 9780062644572. 40pp., hbk.
We've all heard of a herd of cows and a flock of sheep, but what is a group of giraffes called? A murder of crows is a common trivia answer, but what about a mischief of mice? Exploring collective nouns is always fun and in this...
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Oct 03 2019

Explanatorium of science by Robert Winston

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Dorling Kindersley, 2019. ISBN: 9780241359488.
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. Themes: Science, Physical science, Biological science, Chemical science, Earth Science. In the inimitable way that DK publishing has to present complex information in a readily accessible way, this book that...
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Oct 03 2019

P.O.O.P. of doom by Adam Wallace and James Hart

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Cowboy and Birdbrain, book 2. Scholastic, 2019. ISBN: 9781760661595.
(Age: 7+) Themes: Humour. Cowboy who is half boy - half cow and Birdbrain - a brain with bird features return in another wild and crazy story P.O.O.P. of doom. These best friends deliver Parcels Or Other...
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Oct 03 2019

Animology: The big book of letter art alphabeasts by Maree Coote

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Melbournestyle Books, 2019. ISBN: 9780992491796. 72pp., hbk.
Animology: The big book of letter art alphabeasts by Maree Coote Every part of me's a letter!
Does that help you find me better?
Look very closely - can you see
The hidden letters that find me?
Sometimes
...
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Oct 03 2019

Elmer's birthday by David McKee

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Andersen Press, 2019. ISBN: 9781783447947. 32pp., hbk.
To celebrate Elmer's 30th birthday, there is a new story called, appropriately, Elmer's birthday. Hoping to get their own back on him, the elephants decide to play a joke on Elmer on his birthday and spend the day getting all...
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Oct 03 2019

Elmer: A classic collection by David McKee

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Andersen Press, 2019. ISBN: 9781783448678. 152pp., hbk.
Thirty years ago I discovered a lovable character that has been an integral part of the lives of the very young students I've taught and my grandchildren - a patchwork elephant called Elmer. Every time his creator David McKee...
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