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

Feb 18 2020

The other Bennet sister by Janice Hadlow

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Pan Macmillan, 2020. ISBN: 9781509842032. 320pp.
(Age: 15+) Highly recommended. Mary is the other Bennet sister, the one we hear least about in Jane Austen's Pride and prejudice. Jane and Lizzie, the two eldest are beautiful and intelligent, the two younger ones, Kitty and Lydia, are vain and flighty, and Mary is the one in the middle, the plain and serious one with her head in books. Mary is the object of her mother's disdain, seen as the most unattractive and least marriageable of her daughters, and even her father spares little thought for her, Lizzie being his favourite.
Author Hadlow takes the character of Mary and retells Austen's story from Mary's perspective. Part One is Pride and prejudice retold, we remember key scenes and events but told by a different narrator. This section of the novel would make an excellent focus for the English curriculum study of appropriation and adaptation as a literary device.
But then Hadlow goes further. She imagines what happens to Mary after the ending of Pride and prejudice when the four other sisters are all happily settled and secure in their marriages. Mary is in an extremely untenable position with no home of her own, no income, no marriage prospects, and parents that are embarrassed by her. She moves from place to place staying in turn with sisters, friends and relatives. She continues to read, the subjects more and more intellectually demanding, and she observes the marriages of others, gradually coming to an appreciation of the qualities that make a good relationship. As she matures, she is fortunate to have the encouragement of some who have an appreciation of her good qualities and intellect, and there are even male companions who seem to take an interest in her.
In Hadlow's story, Mary is the kind of heroine we find in Jane Eyre, self-effacing and lonely, a plain but good natured, intelligent woman who longs for the love and companionship of someone who recognises her good qualities. She has to overcome the humiliating experiences of her youth and eventually blossom into a confident person who can take her place in society. Like Austen, Hadlow has told a fascinating story that explores identity, love, marriage, class and the role of women in the 19th century.
Helen Eddy



More Reviews

Feb 18 2020

Willy Wonka's everlasting book of fun by Roald Dahl

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Penguin Random House, 2020. ISBN: 9780241428139.
(Ages: 7-12). Highly recommended. An activity book filled with games, activities, recipes and information all centred around the characters and story of Charlie and the chocolate factory by Roald Dahl. Willy Wonka introduces the...
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Feb 18 2020

Bone china by Laura Purcell

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Bloomsbury, 2019. ISBN: 9781526602527. 384pp.
(Age: Adolescent - Adult) This story begins with Hester Why's enigmatic statement that 'love is fragile' and it is indeed clearly her past experiences, her fear and unsettled present that, we gather, are 'dragging her' to Cornwall in the...
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Feb 18 2020

Where's Peppa's magical unicorn?

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Penguin Random House, 2020. ISBN: 9780241412046. 10pp.
(Age: 1-4) Daddy Pig is helping Peppa look for her magical unicorn. It isn't in her toy cupboard, that's just Horsey Twinkle Toes. "Where else shall we look?" asks Daddy Pig. "A fairy-tale castle!" says Peppa. And so the search...
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Feb 17 2020

The Good Hawk by Joseph Elliott

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Walker Books, 2020. ISBN: 9781406385854. 368pp.
(Age: Upper primary - secondary) Highly recommended. The Good Hawk by Joseph Elliott has a solid central character in Agatha. It is a fantasy story where two friends are forced to leave their ravaged home and travel to distant,...
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Feb 17 2020

Spinoza's overcoat: Travels with writers and poets by Subhash Jaireth

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Transit Lounge, 2020. ISBN: 9781925760460.
(Age: Adult) Non-fiction. This collection of essays by Jaireth explores the poetry and lives of some of his personally selected writers and poets, some probably not well known to many readers. However his book also includes poems that are the...
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Feb 17 2020

Dippy and the Dinosaurs by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley

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Angus and Robertson, 2020. ISBN: 9781460754092. 32pp., hbk.
Dippy the Diprotodon has dug a new hole and the best thing about a hole is that if you have sharp claws you can make it bigger and bigger. In fact you can make it so big it can take you into another world! A swimming hole, to be...
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Feb 14 2020

Under the Milky Way: traditions and celebrations beneath the stars by Frane Lessac

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Candlewick Press, 2020. ISBN: 9781536200959. 31pp.
(Age: 5-10) Recommended. Lovers of festivals and Astronomy enthusiasts are in for a wonderful time as Lessac takes the reader around North America looking at different places and their traditions, all under the Milky Way. Beginning with...
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Feb 14 2020

Love from the Crayons by Drew Daywalt

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Illus. by Oliver Jeffers. HarperCollins, 2019. ISBN: 9780008384920. 32pp., hbk.
Love is yellow and orange.
Because love is sunny and warm.

Join the Crayons as they bring us another charming tale, this time...
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Feb 14 2020

Imaginary friend by Stephen Chbosky

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Orion Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781409184812. 704 pp.
(Age: Adult) Fans of horror stories and who have the constitution to read this massive volume of 704 pages will find a different story to Chbosky's famous The Perks of Being a Wallflower. After Kate leaves an abusive relationship she...
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Feb 13 2020

Wheels by Sally Sutton

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Illus. by Brian Lovelock. Walker Books, 2020. ISBN: 9781760651589. 32pp.
(Age: 2-5) Highly recommended. Lots of fun to be had for any child who is interested in things that move, this book will have young children guessing just what wheels belong to the picture illustrated as they read...
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Feb 13 2020

Tunnel of bones by Victoria Schwab

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Cassidy Blake book 2. Scholastic, 2019. ISBN: 9781407196930. 272pp.
(Age: 11-14) Recommended. Cass and Jacob (her ghost best friend) have another exciting adventure in the wonderful city of Paris, where Cass's parents are filming their TV show The Inspecters. Cass's skills as a ghost...
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Feb 13 2020

The Creature Choir by David Walliams

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Illus. by Tony Ross. HarperCollins, 2019. ISBN: 9780008262198. 32pp., hbk.
Warble the walrus loved to sing and her dream was to one day take part in The Great Big Animal Talent Show. Sadly though, her warbling was somewhat less than melodic - in fact it was shocking - and eventually the...
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Feb 13 2020

Golden in death by J.D. Robb

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In death book 50. Piaktus, 2020. ISBN: 9780349422084. 387pp.
(Age; Adult) Recommended. Fans of J.D. Robb's In death series have been following the investigations of super cop Eve Dallas and her gorgeous husband Roarke since the first book, Naked in death, came out...
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Feb 12 2020

The man in the water by David Burton

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University of Queensland Press, 2019. ISBN: 9780702262524. 250pp.
(Age: 14 - Adult) Highly recommended. A book for mystery lovers both teen and adult, Burton takes the reader to the Queensland outback into a small mining town, uncovering secrets and competing interests as Shaun a young...
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Feb 12 2020

Alphaprints Australian Animals : Mothers and babies by Roger Priddy

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Pan Macmillan, 2020. ISBN: 9781783419418. Board book.
(Age: 1-5) Highly recommended. Little fingers are going to have a treat with the latest offering from Roger Priddy. The Australian mother and baby animals that are featured in this book are embossed in the style of fingerprints which...
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Feb 12 2020

Coming home to country by Bronwyn Bancroft

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Little Hare, 2020. ISBN: 9781760501921. 24pp., hbk.
The saying "there's no place like home" has never been expressed so poignantly as in this new book from leading indigenous artist Bronwyn Bancroft who always creates a visual feast accompanied by lyrical text. The young girl is coming...
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Feb 12 2020

The secret of the youngest rebel by Jackie French

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The Secret Histories Book 5. Angus and Robertson, 2019. ISBN: 9781460754801. pbk., 110pp.
French's historical novels present an area of history readers know little of, but by the time they read her books, they will have gained an overview of the period in which the book is set, a...
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Feb 11 2020

Mr Archimedes' bath by Pamela Allen

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Angus and Robertson, 2020. ISBN: 9781460758960. 32pp., hbk.
(Age: All) Highly recommended. As the 40th anniversary reprint testifies Mr Archimedes' bath has become a children's classic as each new generation learns about the Greek mathematician Archimedes and the physics of water...
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Feb 11 2020

Earth Hour : A lights-out event for our planet by Nanette Heffernan

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Illus. by Bao Luu. Charlesbridge Publishing, 2020. ISBN: 9781580899420. 32pp.
(Age: 5-12) Highly recommended. Earth Hour this year takes place on 28 March 2020, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. This is an ongoing worldwide response to the impact we are...
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Feb 11 2020

Weird little robots by Carolyn Crimi

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Illus. by Corrina Luyken.Walker Books, 2020. ISBN: 9781406387988. pbk., 240pp.
(Age: 8-11) Recommended. As the title suggests, Weird little robots is centred on robots created out of bits and pieces. Eleven year old Penny Rose Mooney is new to town and more importantly, new to...
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Feb 11 2020

Peppa the Easter Bunny

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Penguin Random House, 2020.ISBN: 9780241411827. 16pp.
(Age: 1-4) Peppa has an idea: "Let's have a surprise Easter-egg hunt, George!". "Yippee!" cheers George. Peppa and George decorate Easter eggs and hide them in the garden for their friends to find. Peppa has another idea: "Can I...
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Feb 10 2020

19 love songs by David Levithan

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Text Publishing, 2020. ISBN: 9781922268921.
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. Short stories. This collection by award-winning author David Levithan is full of heart-warming, sometimes funny, stories of young friendship and love. The scathing humour of quiz bowl team member, Alec,...
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Feb 10 2020

Morphing Murphy by Robert Favretto

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Illus. by Tull Suwannakit. Ford St Publishing, 2019. ISBN: 9781925804324. 32pp.
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Murphy the tadpole loves life in his weedy pond. He swims around and around all day long. But one day he notices two tiny bumps near his tail. He is concerned and tries to shake...
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Feb 10 2020

Jelly-boy by Nicole Godwin

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Illus. by Christopher Nielsen. Walker Books, 2020. ISBN: 9781760651237. hbk., 32pp.
(Age: 3+) Highly recommended. When the jelly fish becomes entangled with her jelly-boy, an unusually shaped animal that floats in the sea, she is blown away with his daring and bravery. He is big...
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Feb 10 2020

When sadness comes to call by Eva Eland

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Andersen Press, 2020. ISBN: 9781783447954. pbk., 32pp.
(Age: 5+) When sadness calls the images in this book show the child trying to deal with the cloud that hangs over his head. At first he tries to shut it away, then he finds that he becomes the sadness so must find another way of...
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Feb 07 2020

Gold Rush by Jackie French

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Illus. by Dave Hackett. Fair Dinkum Histories - All the Stinky Bits series. Omnibus Books, 2020. ISBN: 9781760667634. pbk. 160pp.
Another in Jackie French's inviting series of Fair Dinkum Histories will attract a...
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Feb 07 2020

Aussie Kids: Meet Zoe and Zac at the Zoo by Belinda Murrell

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Illus. by David Hardy. Penguin Random House Australia, 2020. ISBN: 9781760893651.
(Age: 6 - 8yrs) Recommended. Zoe and Zac are almost twins - born on the same day, at the same hospital and live next door to each other at the Zoo in Dubbo, Australia. They have just turned seven and...
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Feb 07 2020

The Easter bunnyroo by Susannah Chambers

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Illus. by Laura Wood. Allen and Unwin, 2020. ISBN: 9781760635015.
(Age: 3+) Recommended. When Dad brings home a rescue animal to care for, our hero is convinced that the animal is not a joey but an Easter Bunny, because of its long ears, big feet, hopping nature and its convenient built...
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Feb 06 2020

The chicken's curse by Frances Watts

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Allen and Unwin, 2020. ISBN: 9781760525569. 272pp.
(Age: Mid - Upper primary) In the Australian year 7 HASS curriculum, students investigate the Mediterranean world of the ancient past and the contributions of the ancient world to our modern social, political and economic systems....
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Feb 06 2020

Somebody give this heart a pen by Sophia Thakur

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Walker books, 2019. ISBN: 9781406388534.
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. An ode to the emotional release of writing, Gambian-British poet Sophia Thakur's poems are courageous in the exploration of identity, racism, love, violence, sorrow, faith and so much more. This is the first...
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Feb 06 2020

Counting our Country by Jill Daniels

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Magabala Books, 2020. ISBN 9781925768657. 11pp. board book.
(Age: 1+) Highly recommended. This beautifully coloured, bright counting book is a lovely addition to board books for young children. Featuring different animals that the author has found in her country of SE Arnhem Land, young...
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Feb 06 2020

The bat book by Charlotte Milner

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DK/Penguin Random House, 2020. ISBN: 9780241410691.
Recommended for readers aged 8+. Themes: Bats, Ecology. Bats are often misunderstood, so this book written and illustrated by Charlotte Milner helps to demystify these mammals and describe the features of bats and their important role...
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