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

Mar 22 2019

Kensy and Max Undercover by Jacqueline Harvey

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Kensy and Max, book 3. Random House, 2019. ISBN: 9780143791904.
(Age: 9-12) Highly recommended. Themes: Brothers and sisters, Spies, Mysteries, Missing persons. After a week's intensive training in spy craft, eleven-year-old twins Kensy and Max return to their London home to begin the new school term. Kensy's unsettled and distracted behaviour, thinking of her missing parents and grandparents, leads to an unfortunate explosion in the school laboratory. When a second blast destroys their grandmother's seven storey house, Kensy and Max are packed off to Sydney to escape the espionage.
Granny Cordelia sends the twins to far away Sydney, Australia from the danger; their new mission focuses on uncovering the troubles and problems their grandmother's best friend's family are facing. They are sent to infiltrate Van and Ellery Chalmers' posh private school and watch the children. With Song the butler and Fitz as their guardian and protector, Kensy and Max soon settle in to Sydney life. Secret coded messages from their parents encourage the children to keep on going. Fitz is disguised as the new PE teacher and the twins placed in Year 5 and 6, Van and Ellery Chalmers' classes. Counterpoint to this main story, we gain insight into the whereabouts of the missing grandparents and their captivity. Kensy and Max's spy skills come in to play, with the accompaniment of their affable next-door neighbour Curtis whose knowledge of transport and locations is very beneficial. Max's discovery of his cricket skills also proves valuable. The reasons behind Mrs Chalmers' secretive behaviour, hiding resources to help her escape with her children also become apparent.
Jacqueline Harvey's 'Undercover' delivers another fast-paced story. She is the master of creating exciting characters, set in the backdrop of her familiar home-town Sydney. She is not afraid to deal with bullying, industrial espionage, chemical warfare and domestic abuse. The author continues to develop significant themes of friendship, sibling loyalty, creative problem solving and personal growth.
Undercover is another brilliant read, complete with spy craft and code cracking, proving to be another winner for the preteen and young teen audience.
Rhyllis Bignell



More Reviews

Mar 22 2019

Ivanhoe Swift left home at six by Jane Godwin

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Ill. by A.Yi. Allen and Unwin, 2019. ISBN: 9781760631864.
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Themes: Adventure, Growing up, Independence. Ivanhoe is determined to see what lies over the hill, to travel to places unseen, to explore the world beyond his home. His parents are concerned as they...
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Mar 22 2019

The Curses by Laure Eve

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Faber and Faber 2019. ISBN: 9780571328048.
(Age: 12+) Recommended. The Curses, sequel to The Graces, follows The Grace children and their recently resurrected friend, Wolf. Wolf is the first person who has ever been resurrected but something's off with Wolf, is it just that...
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Mar 22 2019

The Runaway by Jane Smith

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Tommy Bell Bushranger Boy book 7. Big Sky Publishing, 2018. ISBN: 9781925675894. 111p.
(Age: 8+) Recommended. Themes: Historical, Speculative. Francis is 'that' friend who has a knack of getting his mates into trouble. He wasn't even supposed to go on holiday to Carly's place in...
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Mar 22 2019

Happy Camper! By Shamini Flint

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Ill. by Sally Heinrich. The Susie K Diaries. Allen and Unwin, 2019. ISBN: 9781760528287.
(Age: 7 - 10) Recommended. Themes: Camping, Life skills, Problem-solving, Friendship. The idea of going on a school camping trip is very stressful for the main character, Susie K., who is...
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Mar 21 2019

Love lie repeat by Catherine Greer

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Penguin Books, 2019. ISBN: 9780143791225.
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. All Annie wants is to be loved. By Trip. By Ash and Ruby. By her parents. Even by her dead aunt, Margaretta, who ruined everything.
Following the friendship ins and outs of Annie, Ash, and Ruby, three 'it'...
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Mar 21 2019

Baz and Benz by Heidi McKinnon

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Allen and Unwin, 2019. ISBN: 9781760523688.
(Age: 3+) Highly recommended. Themes: Friendship, Visual literacy, Humour. A story promoting friendship despite the annoying behaviour of one, will find a place in every classroom as friendships and their resultant disharmonies take up a lot of...
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Mar 21 2019

Blabbermouth: Oops, I've done it again! by Chrissie Perry

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Illus. by Pete Petrovic. Scholastic, 2019. ISBN: 9781760660956.
(Ages: 8-11) Recommended. Themes: Personality, Communication skills, Reputation. What happens when you're nervous and you can't help blurting things out, even other people's secrets? Chrissie Perry's Blabbermouth is a...
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Mar 21 2019

Queen of air and darkness by Cassandra Clare

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Dark Artifices book 3. Simon and Schuster; 2018. ISBN: 9781471116704. 880p; p/b.
In this third instalment in the Dark Artifices series of Shadowhunter novels, Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn must deal with the loss of Julian's sister and the Inquisitor, as well as...
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Mar 21 2019

Pearl the proper unicorn by Sally Odgers

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Illus. by Adele K. Thomas. Scholastic, 2019. ISBN: 9781760661854.
(Age: 6+) Themes: Magic, Unicorns. Sally Odgers continues her delightful magical series in Pearl the proper unicorn. Colourful pages, borders, and magical words, make this an easy-to-read and share story, just right...
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Mar 20 2019

Gorski's Bitemare by Robert Favretto

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Illus. by Danny Willis. Gorski's Bitemare. Ford Street Publishing, 2019. ISBN: 9781925804164.
(Age: 8+) Recommended. Themes: Humour, Family, Vampires, Adventure, School, Consequences. Gorski, his sister Drusella, and their parents turn into vampires when night comes. Both Gorski's...
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Mar 20 2019

Enchantee by Gita Trelease

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Macmillan, 2019. ISBN: 9781509895977.
(Age: Young adult) Recommended. 8.5/10. Themes: Young Adult - Fantasy, Romance, France and Paris 1789. An exciting fantasy tale where the illustriously rich King Louis XVI, Marie Antoniette and the image conscious aristocrats living in their palaces...
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Mar 20 2019

Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard

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The Witchlands book 3. Tor, 2019. ISBN: 9781447288855.
(Age: 15+) Recommended. Themes: Fantasy, Witches and warlocks, Battles. Fans of the first two books in the Witchlands series,...
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Mar 20 2019

Hop little bunnies by Martha Mumford

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Illus. by Laura Hughes. Bloomsbury, 2019. ISBN: 9781408892930.
(Ages: 0-3) Recommended. Themes; Bunnies, Lift the Flaps, Rhyming Story. This comes after the similar title We're Going on an Egg Hunt and is based on the popular Hop Little Bunnies song. UK illustrator Laura...
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Mar 20 2019

Ombria in Shadow by Patricia A. McKillip

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Fantasy Masterworks series. Gollanz, 2014. ISBN: 9781473205741.
(Age: 15+) Highly recommended. Themes: Fantasy, Sorcerers, Princes and princesses. World Fantasy Award for Best Novel (2003), Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature (2003). This award winning novel is a feast...
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Mar 20 2019

Show Stopper! by Shamini Flint

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Ill. by Sally Heinrich. The Susie K Diaries. Allen and Unwin, 2019. ISBN: 9781760523701.
(Ages: 7-10) Recommended. Themes: Performances, Friendship, Life skills, Schools stories. A talent show is always a source of stress for most ordinary children, but for Susie K. it means...
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Mar 19 2019

Let me sleep, sheep! by Meg McKinlay

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Ill. by Leila Rudge. Walker Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781925381887.
(Age: 3+) Highly recommended. Themes: Sheep, Sleep, Humour. Young Amos is trying to get to sleep. He begins by counting sheep, but when he hears a thud in his bedroom, he is shocked to find two sheep on his floor, complaining...
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Mar 19 2019

Brindabella by Ursula Dubosarky

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Illus. by Andrew Joyner. Allen and Unwin, 2018. ISBN: 9781760112042
(Age: 8+) Highly recommended. Themes: Single parent family, Friendship, Australian bush, Farm life, Australian animals, Hunters, Adventure. Pender and his father live in an old farm house hidden in the Australian bush....
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Mar 19 2019

The Dyasters by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

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Pan Macmillian, 2019. ISBN: 9781760554163. paperback, 308 pg.
(Age: 11 - Young adults) Teenagers who can control the elements (air, water, fire and earth) are being hunted down by a mad scientist that genetically engineered them to do this while in their mother's womb. What is there not...
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Mar 19 2019

Grace on the court by Maddy Proud

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Piccolo Nero, 2018. ISBN 9781760640330. 228 pages, paperback.
(Age: 9-14) Grace on the court is a story about Grace Parker, a netball nerd transitioning from primary school into high school. She is very passionate about netball and her aim is to make it onto her high school team....
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Mar 19 2019

Bright young dead by Jessica Fellowes

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Mitford murders series. Hachette, 2018. ISBN: 9780751567205.
(Age: Older adolescent - Adult) This is undoubtedly a book set firmly in the era of The Wealthy and The Rest of the World. The children of The Wealthy are educated, erudite and spoiled, yet they also expect that they...
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Mar 18 2019

Queen Celine by Matt Shanks

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Walker Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781760650346.
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Themes: Beach, Power, Environment. Celine loves coming to the beach. Here she can be the queen of all that she surveys, wanting to build a rock wall to protect and keep safe all the animals that she sees in the rock...
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Mar 18 2019

52 Mondays by Anna Ciddor

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Allen and Unwin, 2019. ISBN: 9781760523480.
(Age: 9-12) Recommended. Themes: Family life, Jewish peoples, Dolls. Anne Ciddor's 52 Mondays is a gentle evocative middle-grade novel set in the 1960s. She reminisces about her childhood, her family's Jewish heritage and celebrations...
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Mar 18 2019

Liars: No survivors by Jack Heath

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Scholastic, 2018. ISBN: 9781742761930. Paperback, 235 pg.
(Age: 8-14) Highly recommended. Wow! What an action packed book right from the opening page where a plane crashes into a house in the little known town of Kelton. The accident is a mystery and there are no passengers aboard the...
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Mar 18 2019

Fish Kid and the Lizard Ninja by Kylie Howarth

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Walker Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781760650810.
(Age: 7+) Recommended. Themes: Humour, Marine Biology, Environmental Issues, Ocean Life, Adventures, Friendship, Problem Solving, Fish facts. Young Bodhi lives an enviable life on a boat with his parents, a marine biologist and an ocean...
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Mar 18 2019

The great Shelby Holmes and the coldest case by Elizabeth Eulberg

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Illus. by Matt Robertson. The Great Shelby Holmes series, Book 3. Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2018. ISBN: 9781408871515.
(Age: 8+) Highly recommended. Themes: Friendship, New York, Family Issues, Separated parents, Mystery, Detectives, Problem Solving, Figure Skating Champions,...
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Mar 18 2019

The house on the mountain by Ella Holcombe and David Cox

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Allen and Unwin, 2019. ISBN: 9781760636968.
(Age: 7+) Highly recommended. The House on the Mountain is a deeply atmospheric story that follows a family's journey as they rebuild their lives after the devastation of the Black Saturday bushfires. Ella Holcombe draws on her most...
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Mar 15 2019

A great escape by Felice Arena

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Penguin Random House, 2019. ISBN: 9780143794042.
(Age: 9+) Highly recommended. Themes: Berlin Wall; Freedom; Escape. Felice Arena has created a story about life for a young person at the time of the separation of West Germany from East Germany during the Cold War era. With the creation...
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Mar 15 2019

TC and the stinkiest story ever (in the history of the Universe) by Dave Hartley

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Illus. by Peter Baldwin. Scholastic Australia, 2019. ISBN: 9781742991870.
(Age: 7+) Recommended. Themes: Friendship, Aboriginal culture, Family, Bullies, Mystery, Humour. Set in a country town in Australia, this light-hearted story covers the mystery of a missing dog, daily issues...
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Mar 15 2019

Superman : Dawnbreaker by Matt De La Pena

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Random House, 2019. ISBN: 9780141386867.
(Age: 10+) Recommended. Themes: Science fiction, Superheroes, Good and evil. Having grown up with superman movies and comics set in the 50s, I found this version very refreshing as it is set in current times. Mobile phones and laptops are common...
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Mar 15 2019

The Genius Experiment by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

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Max Einstein book 1. Hachette, 2019. ISBN: 9781784759827.
(Age: 10-14) Highly recommended. Themes: Orphans, Gifted children, Inventions, Heroes and villains, Problem solving, Albert Einstein. James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein's The genius Experiment introduces...
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Mar 15 2019

Muhammad Ali by Isabel Sanchez Vegara

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Ill. by Brosmind. Little People, Big Dreams series. Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781786037336.
(Ages: 5-9) Recommended. Themes: Determination, Persistence. This is just one title in a huge collection of the Little People, Big Dreams series (including...
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Mar 14 2019

You must be Layla by Yassmin Abdel-Magied

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Penguin, 2019. ISBN: 9780143788515.
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. Themes: Identity, Diversity, Resilience, Moral values, Bullying, Humour. Layla is a very loveable character, full of fun and enthusiasm, highly intelligent, but a person who sometimes lets her spoken words run faster than...
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Mar 14 2019

Circle by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

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Shapes trilogy, book 3. Walker Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781406384222.
(Age: 3+) Highly recommended. Themes: STEM, Circles, Friendship, Humour. Inventors of the quirky books, Square and Triangle, this Californian duo have collaborated on another book, Circle. As...
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Mar 14 2019

The secret of the youngest rebel by Jackie French

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The Secret Histories series book 5. Angus and Robertson, 2019. ISBN: 9781460754801.
(Age: 8+) Highly recommended. Themes: New South Wales (1804), Australian history, Convicts, New South Wales Corp, Irish convicts, Castle Hill Rebellion. Young orphan, Frog, is barely surviving...
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Mar 14 2019

Four dead queens by Astrid Scholte

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Allen and Unwin, 2019. ISBN: 9781760524418. 418p; p/b.
In a divided world where citizens of each quadrant must conform to strict societal expectations, outcast pickpocket Keralie accidentally uncovers a plot to assassinate the queens of the realms and must try to stop it. Scholte does an...
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Mar 14 2019

The Skylarks' war by Hilary McKay

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Macmillan Children's Books, 2018. ISBN: 9781509894949. 305 pages.
(Age: 10+) Recommended. Costa Book Award 2018. This book brings to mind the stories from earlier times. With shades of Jane Gardam's wonderful evocations of childhood, Sonya Harnett's The children of the king and...
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