THE LIBRARIANâ€™S GUIDE TO BOOKS FOR KIDS & TEENS
2018: The Big Picture Professional development Student writing competitions Literary anniversaries And more! SPECIAL SUPPLEM ENT
Books fo r strugglin g readers
Detailed reviews on the latest fiction to help you choose
ABOUT THE PUBLISHER The Book Curator is published by Apt School Resources, an Australian business jointly owned by two families who share a passion for books and a determination to provide outstanding service to our members. We help schools all over the country by providing them with access to helpful information, detailed reviews and the latest fiction titles for their libraries. Our goal is to provide the resources librarians need to choose the best books for their school library across a wide range of genres, age groups and formats. We provide a wide range of services to help support our members so they can get the best return for their time and their budget. This magazine (previously called Review) and our service have developed based on what our members want. We invite your ideas, suggestions, feedback and constructive criticism to help us provide solutions to the challenges you face as you work to build an outstanding library for your school community. In addition to library titles, we source and supply a wide range of interesting and effective resources to help teachers, counsellors and chaplains work with and support their students. We also help equip teachers and school leaders with professional development resources.
EDITORIAL Welcome to the first issue of The Book Curator for 2018! I hope you’ve had a wonderful break and are excited for the year ahead. A few months ago one of our members commented that an overview of professional development opportunities would be helpful, so we decided to take that a step further and make this February issue the ‘plan your 2018’ edition. We hope you will use it to schedule in the events that are most important to you. As well as an overview of key PD conferences, you’ll find a two page spread of major upcoming literary and historic anniversaries, details of movie adaptations of YA and children’s books coming to the big screen (with a special offer), plus an article on Australian writing competitions your students can get involved in. We’ve also got a feature on the Kids’ Lit Quiz - an incredible international competition for teams of book-loving kids - including information on how your school can join in. We want libraries to be accessible for every child, so in our special supplement this month you’ll find reviews of more than 50 skinny reads for struggling and reluctant readers, those with dyslexia or those with English as an additional language. Our goal is to help make 2018 your best year yet. If there’s something you’d like us to help with, we genuinely want to hear your ideas. Here’s to a fabulous year ahead!
For more information about our services or to provide feedback please contact us.
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Disclaimer: The reviews contained in this magazine are based on each individual reviewer’s opinion only. While we do our best to pick up every potential concern in fiction titles, we cannot guarantee that to be the case. Should you purchase a book based on our reviews and then discover an issue of serious concern to you that was not included in our review, please contact us.
2 | The Book Curator: February 2018
Contents » ARTICLES & FEATURES 3
IN THE SPOTLIGHT Books-to-Movies 2018 PLAN YOUR YEAR
Professional Development Highlights 2018
Kids’ Lit Quiz 2018
Kids Writing Competitions
10 NOTABLE DATES: The Year Ahead 12 NEWS & VIEWS
» BOOK REVIEWS 15 LIONEL AND THE LION'S SHARE Lou Peacock 15! YAY! IT’S LIBRARY DAY Aleesah Darlison 15! MACCA THE ALPACA
Matt Cosgrove 16! ROOM ON OUR ROCK Kate & Jol Temple 16! KATE AND THE THING Heidi Cooper Smith 16 ERIK THE LONE WOLF Sarah Finan
19 SAM'S SURFBOARD SHOWDOWN Allayne L. Webster & Amanda S. Clarke 20! THE PICKY PUFFIN: ZOE'S RESCUE ZOO Amelia Cobb 20! PATTY AND THE SHADOWS: GAME DAY! # 2 Patty Mills 21! INTERGALACTIC GAS: BAD GUYS EPISODE 5 Aaron Blabey 21! BARNEY AND THE SECRET OF THE FRENCH SPIES Jackie French 22! THE WILD ROBOT Peter Brown 23! VOYAGE TO AVALON: THE MICE OF THE ROUND TABLE # 2 Julie Leung 23! THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z. Kate Messner 24! LIBBY IN THE MIDDLE Gwyneth Rees 25 I SWAPPED MY BROTHER ON THE INTERNET Jo Simmons
17! STORYBOOK STARS Jim Dewar
25! THE RISE OF WOLVES Kerr Thomson
17! PARMESAN THE RELUCTANT RACEHORSE Jacqui Halpin
26! THE EXTRAORDINARY COLOURS OF AUDEN DARE
17! CLOVER’S BIG IDEAS Georgie Donaghey
27! THE EXTREMELY INCONVENIENT ADVENTURES OF BRONTE METTLESTONE Jaclyn Moriarty
18! THE FIVE MISFITS Beatrice Alemagna 18! HARK IT'S ME, RUBY LEE! Lisa Shanahan 18! LIFE OF THE PARTY!: THE SUSIE K FILES # 1 Shamini Flint 19! GAME CHANGER!: THE SUSIE K FILES # 2 Shamini Flint
28! HAVE SWORD, WILL TRAVEL Garth Nix & Sean Williams 29! DO YOU SPEAK CHOCOLATE? Cas Lester 29! PAX Sara Pennypacker
30! TWENTY-FIVE MEMORIES OF VIGGO MACDUFF Kate Gordon 31! ESME'S WISH Elizabeth Foster 32! AUSTRALIA'S GREAT WAR: 1918 Libby Gleeson 32! LOVE, HATE & OTHER FILTERS Samira Ahmed 33! GRAEVALE: THE MEDORAN CHRONICLES # 4 Lynette Noni 34! RAIN FALL Ella West 35! INDIGO BLUE Jessica Watson 35! WOLF CHILDREN Paul Dowswell 36! THE START OF ME AND YOU Emery Lord 37! GEMINI Sonya Mukherjee 37 UNEARTHED Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner 38! SCYTHE Neal Shusterman 39! THE CRUEL PRINCE: THE FOLK OF THE AIR # 1 Holly Black
» IN EVERY ISSUE 41 USEFUL INFORMATION Great websites and apps, festivals and literary events, conferences and seminars 42 INDEX This issue’s titles in alphabetical order 43 UPCOMING TITLES What’s on the horizon
30! DOG Andy Mulligan
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IN THE SPOTLIGHT
BOOKS-TOMOVIES 2018 Explore the many movie adaptations of children and YA novels coming to the big screen in 2018 with this comprehensive guide. Peter Rabbit 22nd March
The ever-increasing volume of book-to-movie adaptations illustrates the film industries’ incessant hunger for original source material to turn into great movies. The trend of dystopian, futuristic and science fiction novels being adapted into hit action-thrillers endures this year, and we will also see many of the YA market’s most popular contemporary fiction and romantic dramas transitioning to the big screen. Worth a notable mention is Breath, the local venture that adapted Perth author Tim Winton’s contemporary fiction— winner of the 2009 Miles Franklin Literary Award—into an entirely Australian feature film crewed, produced, cast and filmed on home soil. Movie adaptations drive demand for the books so it is a good time to cross-check your collection with the list on your February order form (with additional member savings on offer when you order by 28th Feb 2018). Please note that movie release dates shown here are subject to change.
4 | The Book Curator: February 2018
A comedic animated film about the shenanigans that follow Potter’s beloved characters when Peter Rabbit tries to sneak into a farmer’s vegetable garden. Shot in Sydney with homegrown talent Margot Robbie, Sia and Rose Byrne. A Wrinkle in Time 29th March
Adapted from the novel of the same name by Madeleine L'Engle, two siblings embark on an adventure to find their missing scientist father after being sent into space by three peculiar beings. Filmed next door in New Zealand and starring young Aussie talent Levi Miller. Love, Simon 29th March
A coming-of-age story that follows a closeted gay protagonist who has fallen in love with an anonymous classmate online, based on Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertelli and starring another Australian actress, Katherine Langford. Ready Player One 29th March
Directed by Steven Spielberg, this adaption of Ernest Cline’s debut science fiction novel is set in a virtual reality world called OASIS. When the creator of this world dies, he leaves behind a challenge for all OASIS players to
find an Easter Egg which will grant the winner his fortune. Breath 3rd May
Based on the multi awardwinning young adult novel by Tim Winton, Breath is the directorial debut of our very own Simon Baker. Set in mid-70s coastal Australia, the film was shot and cast locally. The story follows two teenage boys whose unlikely friendship with a mysterious old surfer pushes them to make some precarious decisions that will profoundly impact their lives. The Darkest Minds 13th September
A disease has killed 98% of America’s children and now the surviving 2% have developed frightening superpowers they are unable to control. Adapted from the first book (of the same name) in Alexandra Bracken’s young adult trilogy, this film follows a group of kids as they escape from an internment camp to pursue a life worth living. Robin Hood 20th September
A Moorish commander and warhardened Crusader embark on a daring revolt against the corrupt English crown in a gritty actionfuelled origin story of how the legend in The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle came to be.
Mowgli 18th October
In a combined CG-animation and performance capture effort, this live action adaption of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book follows Mowgli’s childhood & upbringing; a prequel to the tale we’re familiar with. Our own Cate Blanchett voices Kaa. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald 15th November
The highly anticipated second installment in a series which chronicles Newt Scamander’s adventures in the wizarding world, the rise of Grindelwald and the past of Albus Dumbledore. Director David Yates also directed the final four Harry Potter films and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The Grinch 29th November
In time for the holidays, Dr Seuss’s well-known character will be coming to cinemas and plotting to ruin Christmas for the village of Whoville in an animated remake voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch. Mortal Engines 26th December
Based on the first novel in Philip Reeve’s futuristic quartet set in steampunk London, the story is about cities roving around on giant wheels, surviving on a desolate Earth by devouring smaller towns to replenish their resources.
There are no Australian release dates for the following films, however that may change based on box office results in the US. If not, look for them on DVD or via streaming services. Ophelia 22nd January (USA release)
A dramatic re-imagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet as told from the perspective of Ophelia.
Premiering at Sundance Film Festival, the cast features Australian Naomi Watts.
introduces him to girls and punk rock. Based on Peter Bognanni’s novel by the same name.
The House with a Clock in its Walls
23rd February (USA release)
A is a teenager who wakes up each morning in a different body —in a different life—with no warning as to where or who it will be. When A wakes up in Justin’s body and meets his girlfriend Rhiannon, A realises they want to be with her every day. Based on the bestselling young adult romance novel by David Levithan, the film stars teen Australian talent Angourie Rice. The War with Grandpa 23rd February (USA release)
This family comedy starring Robert De Niro is based on the book by Robert Kimmel Smith and follows a scheming boy who —after being forced to share his bedroom—declares war on his grandfather to win it back. Where’d You Go, Bernadette 11th May (USA release)
Adapted from the comedy novel by Maria Semple, 15-year-old Bee tracks down her agoraphobic mother after she goes missing, and discovers her troubled past in the process. Bernadette Fox is played by Cate Blanchett. Midnight Sun
21st September (USA release)
Based on John Bellairs’ children’s gothic horror novel, the film follows a young orphan who must help his magical uncle find a clock that has the power to bring about the end of the world. ***
Slated for 2018, but no release dates as yet. All the Bright Places The screenplay for this story about a teenage girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die has been penned by the novel’s author Jennifer Niven. The Bell Jar Chronicling the spiral of mental illness, this film is based on the struggles of the young woman in Sylvia Plath’s famous story. Director Kirsten Dunst has announced the film will take on a dark comedic tone. Little Women A modern retelling of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel following the lives of four sisters detailing their passage from childhood into womanhood.
23rd March (USA release)
This tale of love and loss is based on Trish Cook’s romance novel about a 17-year-old girl with a rare disease that makes exposure to sunlight deadly. She lives a confined existence until she meets a boy who opens up her world after nightfall. The House of Tomorrow 8th April (USA release)
A sheltered teenager raised by his eccentric grandmother through the teachings of futuristic architect and inventor R. Buckminster Fuller meets a heart-transplant patient who
2019: A Sneak Peak Mary Poppins Returns 1st January, 2019
Being released in Australian cinemas New Years Day, this is the sequel to the 1964 film and an adaptation of Mary Poppins Comes Back, the second book in P. L. Travers’ children’s series.
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PD Highlights for 2018 With a focus on workshops and conferences relevant to library staff and literacy educators, here is a preview of 2018’s key events (at time of publication) so you can plan your development for the year. VALA2018 Conference
Share it Conference
Libraries, Technology and the Future
Resource Sharing Futures
School Library Association of Victoria (SLAV) Conference
Date: 10 – 11 May Venue: Canberra ACT
Real Libraries: Making it happen in primary schools
More info: tinyurl.com/ycpttlr8
Date: 1 June Venue: Melbourne VIC
Date: 13 – 15 February Venue: Melbourne VIC More info: tinyurl.com/y7klek32
Night of the Notables Date: 27 February Venue: Sydney NSW More info: tinyurl.com/ycw65eao
LDA Professional Development
15th Annual Hawker Brownlow Thinking and Learning Conference Date: 18 - 20 May Venue: Melbourne VIC More info: tinyurl.com/ydatyt4h
Prevention of Early Literacy Difficulties
CBCA VIC 2018 State Conference
Date: 20 March Venue: Regents Park NSW
Reimagine! New Ways With Literature
More info: tinyurl.com/ya4dxdo7
School Library Association of Victoria (SLAV) Conference Real Libraries vs Fake News Date: 23 March Venue: Melbourne VIC More info: tinyurl.com/yayzhgqv
CBCA NSW AAA Professional Development Conference Anticipate! Appreciate! Applaud! Date: 27 March Venue: Sydney NSW
Date: 19 May Venue: Geelong VIC More info: vic.cbca.org.au/conference
Date: 4 June Venue: Perth WA More info: slc.wa.edu.au
American Library Association (ALA) Conference & Exhibition Date: 21 – 26 June Venue: New Orleans (USA) More info: 2018.alaannual.org
AATE/ALEA National Conference The Art of English: Language, Literature, Literacy
What’s So Hard About Reading?
Date: 8 – 11 July Venue: Perth WA
Date: Saturday 19 May Venue: Sydney NSW More info: tinyurl.com/ya6vxba3
SA Christian Schools Library Conference
More info: tinyurl.com/y8bopccr
International Association of School Librarians (IASL) Annual Conference
Christian Schools Library Conference
Date: 6 – 11 May Venue: Istanbul (TURKEY)
WASLA/AISWA Libraries School Library Conference
Australian Literacy Educators’ Association (ALEA) Workshop
Date: 25 May Venue: Adelaide, SA More info: TBA
Information, Innovation and Impact of School Libraries
More info: tinyurl.com/yayzhgqv
Date: 28 – 30 May Venue: Baulkham Hills NSW More info: tinyurl.com/j6oopab
Asia-Pacific Library and Information Conference (APLIC) Roar, Leap, Dare Date: 30 July – 2 August Venue: Gold Coast QLD More info: tinyurl.com/yc7tc9w2
School Library Association of Victoria (SLAV) Conference Real Libraries: Collaborative Spaces Date: 17 August Venue: Melbourne VIC More info: tinyurl.com/yayzhgqv
More info: iasl2018.org
Continued on page 9
6 | The Book Curator: February 2018
KIDS’ LIT QUIZ 2018
Get Involved: Kids’ Lit Quiz 2018 Kids’ Lit Quiz is a fun and exciting international competition that encourages students to to celebrate their love of reading. ‘The Sport of Reading’ started over 25 years ago in New Zealand allowing children to enjoy their knowledge of the books they love in a team environment, just like sport. The students form teams of four and together using their combined knowledge and brain power answer questions about all forms of children’s literature. There is no book list, and the questions relate to all aspects of children's literature are covered from fairy tales and nursery rhymes to popular and award winning books as well as authors and movie adaptations. Team members need to be aged between 10 years and 13 years. It is possible to have a younger child who is a voracious reader BUT all team members must be under 14 years on the 1st July 2018. This is to ensure parity at an International level. This year is Kids’ Lit Quiz’s 8th in Australia. Each year the winning team from each of the heats has the opportunity to take part in the National Final, being held this year in Sydney on Friday 4th May, 2018. Subsidies for travel to the final are provided. The winner of the National Final has the opportunity to take part in the World Final, which will be held in Auckland in July 2018. The prize for the National Final will include some subsidy towards the cost of airfares.
Accommodation, most food and activities for the team and two coaches for the week in Auckland are included in the prize. Schools can enter up to three teams at a heat for an entry fee of $100 per team (or $25 per child). Kids’ Lit Quiz is not-forprofit and is run by a small team of volunteers. All entry fees go into the running of the quiz and subsidies for the teams that are invited to travel to the next level of the competition. Teams receive 50 pre-quiz questions when they enter to help get them started and there are lots of sample questions on the web page at kidslitquiz.com to give you an idea of the style of questions that are asked at the heats.
Available Heats for 2018: Parents and other supporters are welcome to be part of the audience at all the heats and the Final. Newcastle Heat, NSW Venue: Avondale School Friday 16th March 2018 10am - 1pm, (teams need to arrive by 9.45) Ipswich Heat, QLD Venue: Ipswich Girls Grammar Monday 19th March 2018 10am – 1pm, (teams need to arrive by 9.45am) Gold Coast Heat, QLD Venue: The Southport Preparatory School (Lupus St) Tuesday 20th March 2018 10am to 1pm (Teams need to arrive by 9:45am)
Brisbane Heat, QLD Venue: Moreton Bay College (Girls) Wednesday 21st March 2018 10am – 1pm (teams need to arrive by 9.45am) Canberra Heat, ACT Venue: Radford College Thursday 22nd March 2018 6pm – 9pm (teams need to arrive by 5.45pm) Armidale Heat, NSW Venue: New England Girls School Friday 23rd March 2018 12noon – 3pm (Teams need to arrive by 11:45) Orange Heat, NSW Venue: Kinross Wolaroi School Monday 26th March 2018 10am – 1pm, (teams need to arrive by 9.45am) Merrylands Heat, Sydney, NSW Venue: Cerdon College Tuesday 27th March 2018 10am – 1pm, (teams need to arrive by 9.45am) Nth Sydney Heat, Sydney, NSW Venue: Shore School, Nth Sydney Wednesday 28th March 2018 6pm - 9pm, (Teams need to arrive by 5.45pm) For any questions or to access an entry form please contact National Coordinator Nicole Deans by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or enter online at: https://goo.gl/B9MAos Information specific to the heat you are entering will be sent out early Term 1 2018.
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Calling Next Generation Writers To inspire and encourage the next generation of writers, writing competitions present a great opportunity to practise their skills and exhibit their work to industry professionals. Whilst the details of many are yet to be released, below is a snapshot of some of the Australian specific competitions for young writers coming up in 2018. Now is a great time to consider how your library team could work with other teaching staff to promote these opportunities, enlist budding writers and celebrate their entries.
UNSW Bragg Student Prize for Science Writing Deadline: TBA,entries open Term 1 Entry: FREE This annual competition celebrates non-fiction essay writing and is open to Australian students in Years 7 to 10. This highly regarded award is an initiative of UNSW Press, UNSW Science and Refraction Media. Information on the 2018 competition has not been updated on their website yet, but further information is available here: tinyurl.com/y7lnx23f.
USQ Get Writing Prize Deadline: TBA (but entries open 19 February) Entry: FREE Prize: Prizes include a membership to Express Media, mentoring from USQ staff and students, writer’s toolboxes, QBD vouchers and more. With Junior Poetry, Junior Short Story, Senior Poetry and Senior Short Story 8 | The Book Curator: February 2018
categories, this competition is appropriate for all Australian secondary school students in Years 7 to 12. More info: tinyurl.com/l6m8ndz
Greenleaf SPROUTS Kids Writing Competition Deadline: 18 March Entry: $9.90 Prize: Within each category 1st place is awarded $30, 2nd place is awarded $20 and 3 x Highly Commended Certificates are up for grabs. Open to children ages 7 to 16, this competition has two categories: Short Story (800 words) and Poem (500 words). More info: tinyurl.com/ycn22vej
Youth Literary Award Deadline: 31 March Entry: $5.00 Prize: For both the short story and poetry categories, 1st place is awarded $700, 2nd place is awarded $200 and 3rd place is awarded $100. The scope of work accepted in this competition may contribute toward Australian literature or have Australiana content, but this is not a prerequisite. Children up to the age of 18 are invited to submit original literary work such as short stories (2,000 words max) or poetry (100 lines max). More info: tinyurl.com/y8y6sjer
Stories of Life Competition Deadline: TBA, entries open 1 Apr Entry: FREE (for Youth entrants) This competition invites interesting, lively and quirky stories that touch on both light
and dark subject matter, laced with warmth and humour, perhaps conveying the many ways in which God is at work in people’s lives. Students aged 17 and under are eligible for the Youth Award and their submissions must not exceed 1,000 words. More info: storiesoflife.net
CYA Competition Deadline: 4 April Entry: $14.10 Prize: Within each category, 1st place is awarded $100, 2nd place is awarded $60, 3rd place is awarded $40 and all shortlisted entries are read by at least one publisher of children’s books. Unpublished writers and illustrators between the ages of 8 to 18 are eligible to enter illustrations, picture books, chapter books, graphic novels or young adult fiction into the Hatchlings category. Historically, all Hatchlings entries have been presented to a professional editor, and whilst CYA doesn’t guarantee this, it is an exciting prospect for all students considering entering. More info: tinyurl.com/ya3sgxb3
Laura Literary Awards Deadline: 13 April Entry: FREE (underage entrants) Prize: The winners within both the prose and poetry categories will receive the following awards: Young Adult $50, Junior $25 and Junior Primary $15. The Laura Literary Awards are comprised of the Flinders New Prose Awards and CJ Dennis
Poetry Awards and sponsored by The Flinders News and Rocky River ‘Riters. More info: tinyurl.com/yaxyndny
SAETA Young Writers Award Deadline: 18 May Entry: FREE Open to all South Australian students, categories are divided by ages ranging from Reception to Year 12. Students may submit poetry or prose up to 1,000 words in length, but all entries must be written in the presence of an adult or teacher.
Flinders University Young Playwrights Award
School Library Association of Victoria (SLAV) Conference
Deadline: 1 June Entry: FREE Prize: The winner will receive $500 cash, a subscription to South Australia’s State Theatre Company’s 2019 season and a script development session under the guidance of a professional director and playwright mentor. The Junior Award for this competition is open to high school students serious about writing for stage.
Real Libraries: Reading the World
More info: tinyurl.com/y9burfya
More info: tinyurl.com/yanm3w58
The Heywire Competition
Future Leaders Writing Prize
Deadline: 16 September Entry: FREE Prize: The winning story will air on ABC and its creator will be awarded an all-expenses trip to the Heywire summit in Canberra. This competition invites 16- to 22-year-old Australians living outside the major cities (eligibility is checkable online) to submit stories about an aspect of their life. Works can be submitted in a range of formats, including text, video, photography or audio.
Deadline: 31 May Entry: FREE Prize: The award winner receives $1,000 cash and their work published. Designed to recognise and reward young emerging writing talents, this prize encourages Australian Year 11 and 12 students to submit a piece of writing 800 to 1,000 words long. More info: tinyurl.com/ybstyptc
Australian Christian Teen Writer Award Deadline: 31 May Entry: FREE Prize: The author of the best unpublished manuscript will win $1,000 cash. This competition encourages submissions that explore, explain or incorporate Christian themes and values. An emphasis is placed on originality and the contribution of the content to the Australian Christian writing market. It is open to all Australians under the age of 18 with proof of their Christian community and suggests works fall within a word count of 3,000 to 5,000. More info: tinyurl.com/y9l6wd4z
More info: tinyurl.com/ltssn72
PD Highlights 2018 (continued from page 7) Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC) Conference Date: 5 – 9 September Venue: Singapore More info: afcc.com.sg
Celebrate Reading National Conference Insights into Quality Australian Literature for Young Adults Date: 26 – 27 October Venue: Fremantle WA
Date: 23 November Venue: Melbourne VIC More info: tinyurl.com/yayzhgqv
Other Professional Development The Australian School Library Association (ASLA) will also be providing high quality online webinars throughout the year, allowing you to update your skills and knowledge in the comfort of your own home! ASLA is a NSW accredited provider of QTC registered PD which means your participation can contribute to the maintenance of your teacher accreditation. Planned webinar topics for 2018 include: Tips for TLs, Using social media in your library, Genrefying the collection, Awards/Incentives to read, Gamification, Copyright free resources, Cybersafety, Copyright Law changes relevant to teacher librarians and more! For further information check out the ASLA website at tinyurl.com/ y8zk699h or refer to the ASLA newsletter. To join ASLA go to www.asla.org.au/membership.aspx The Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) branches also hold a variety of different events, with the largest being held in NSW. The NSW events are listed in this article, but to view events in other areas, please go to cbca.org.au/branches and select your relevant state or territory. Please keep an eye on the ‘Useful Information’ page in the back of each issue of The Book Curator for more great events (in each issue, there is a list of events for the next calendar month).
More info: tinyurl.com/y76wgyre
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2018 NOTABLE DATES 200 years – Frankenstein
150 years – Last Convict Ship
Library Lovers’ Day
1 January, 1818
9 January, 1868
14 February, 2018
Frankenstein (originally titled The Modern Prometheus), by Mary Shelley was first published anonymously. The idea came to her whilst debating “the nature of the principle of life” when she was just 19-years-old.
The final convict ship to arrive was the Hougoumon, which unloaded 279 prisoners in Fremantle, WA on this date in 1868. By the time penal transportation ended, Australia’s population had grown from 30,000 in 1821 to over 1 million.
This initiative of the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) invites libraries all over the country to encourage library users and supporters to proclaim their love for libraries.
50 years – Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
35 years – Possum Magic
March, 1968 Philip K. Dick’s science fiction novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was published in 1968 and later adapted into the 1982 film Blade Runner. A sequel to the film was released in 2017.
Beloved children’s book author Mem Fox became Australia’s best-selling writer in 1983 following the release of her debut story Possum Magic, a picture book starring Grandma Poss, Hush and a little bit of bush magic.
75 years – The Little Prince
75 years - The Gremlins
25 years – The Giver
6 April, 1943
26 April, 1993
Antione de Saint-Exupéry’s philosophical novella was published—originally in French as Le Petit Prince—and tells the tale of an adult meeting his inner child. It has become a global phenomenon.
Roald Dahl’s The Gremlins was published 75 years ago this month. It is often referred to as his first piece of children’s writing. The little creatures loosely inspired Stephen Spielberg’s 1984 movie Gremlins.
Regarded as the original dystopian young adult fiction and the novel that catalysed the genre’s popularity, Lois Lowry’s controversial book The Giver was published 25 years ago. It was adapted into a film in 2014.
31 March, 1983
National Simultaneous Storytime
150 years Aboriginal Cricket Team
23 May, 2018
25 May, 1868
Held annually by ALIA, NSS invites libraries, schools and families to read the same book at the same time. This year’s book is Hickory Dickory Dash by Tony Wilson and Laura Wood.
The first Australian cricket team to tour England arrived in the UK on this date. It consisted of 13 Aboriginal men. They played a series of 47 matches, winning 14, losing 14 and drawing 19.
20 years – National Sorry Day 26 May, 1998 This year marks the 20th Sorry Day - an effort to make amends for the historical mistreatment of indigenous Australians. 2018 is also the 10 year anniversary of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s National Apology to the Stolen Generations on 13 February, 2008. tinyurl.com/ybhldkc9
10 | The Book Curator: February 2018
200 years Birth of Emily Brontë
CBCA Children’s Book Week
30 July, 1818 Emily Brontë is remembered for her one novel Wuthering Heights, an enduring classic of English literature. She is the sister of famous authors Charlotte Brontë and Anne Brontë.
This week long celebration is a great opportunity to encourage children to develop and share their love of reading with other students. The theme for this year’s CBCA Children’s Book Week is ‘Find Your Treasure’.
17 – 24 August, 2018
35 years – Possum Magic 31 March, 1983
THE YEAR AHEAD
Beloved children’s book author Mem Fox became Australia’s best-selling writer in 1983 following the release of her debut story Possum Magic, a picture book starring Grandma Poss, 250 and years – Cook Setsmagic. Sail Hush a little bit of bush 26 August, 1768 tinyurl.com/yaxhydwu
Captain James Cook departed England on board the Endeavour 250 years ago. It wasyears during – this trip that he discovered 35 Possum Magic Australia, then referred to as Terra 31 March, 1983 Australis incognita—the unknown southernchildren’s land. Beloved book author Mem Fox became Australia’s best-selling tinyurl.com/joexxws writer in 1983 following the release of her debut story Possum Magic, a picture book starring Grandma Poss, Hush and a little bit of bush magic. tinyurl.com/yaxhydwu
200 years – Frankenstein 1 January, 1818 Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, by Mary Shelley was first published anonymously. She conceptualised the idea when she was 19 years oldPigman whilst debating 50 just years – The “the nature of the principle of life”. 12 October, 1968 tinyurl.com/yd7mtykr After winning the Pullitzer Prize for his play ...Gamma Rays, a publisher suggested Paul Zindel write a young adult novel. The Pigman went on to win numerous awards and continues to be used as a class text.
175 years – Ada Lovelace
100 years – Raggedy Ann
10 September, 1918
Mathematician Ada Lovelace translated and expanded Luigi Menabrea’s paper on Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine —the world’s first computer program— including an algorithm for calculating a sequence of Bernoulli numbers.
Johnny Gruelle published the first book in over forty classic Raggedy Ann and Andy stories. Raggedy Ann was patented as a doll in 1915. Gruelle initially created the character for his ill daughter, Marcella.
150 years – Little Women
100 years – The Magic Pudding
30 September, 1868
The first volume of Louisa May Alcott’s instantly successful children’s book Little Women was published, with the second volume being released the following year.
Written on a whim by artist and writer Norman Lindsay, this classic tale features bad-tempered and illmannered Albert, a magic pudding who enjoys being eaten and always returns to being complete.
75 years – Thai-Burma Railway 17 October, 2018 This date marks the completion of the Thai-Burma railway, built by Australian prisoners of war. Many suffered terribel injuries and/or died during the construction. The excavation of Hellfire Pass was one of the most devastating.
50 years – A Wizard of Earthsea November, 1968 A Wizard of Earthsea, the first in Ursula K. Le Guin’s magical six-book fantasy series, was published in 1968. The author passed away on 22 January this year. tinyurl.com/y9qf52ge
Centenary of the Armistice: End of World War 1
250 years – Encyclopædia Britannica
11 November, 1918
6 December, 1768
It is 100 years this year since the Western Front fell silent. The Australian War Memorial will be holding numerous events over a 5 week period to commemorate the end of the Great War.
The first instalment of the first edition of Encyclopædia Britannica was published on this date in 1768. Its Scottish founders finished their first 3volume set in 1771, which sold out.
175 years – A Christmas Carol
200 years – Silent Night
19 December, 1843
24 December, 1818
Charles Dickens’ popular novella starring Ebenezer Scrooge was the most successful book of the 1843 holiday season. Within a few short days (by Christmas Eve) it was completely sold out.
The traditional Christmas song Silent Night was first performed in the church of St. Nikolaus in Oberndorf, Austria on this date. The original poem was authored by a Salzburg priest named Joseph Mohr.
bookcurator.com.au | 11
NEWS & VIEWS
Farewell to an iLibrarian
Library Lovers’ Day February 14th
For the last few years teacher-librarian Di Johnston has been a regular contributor to The Book Curator as our first iLibrarian. We have really appreciated her enthusiasm, her willingness to share her knowledge with other librarians and her passion to encourage kids to read and to love books. At the end of 2017 Di made the difficult decision to retire from the The Book Curator team and we wish her all the best in this next phase of her life.
The Australian Library and Information Association is encouraging the country to make libraries their valentines on Library Lovers’ Day this 14 February—a befitting date to celebrate the books we love and the havens in which they reside.
We have some guest articles planned for the next few months featuring our members sharing some of their library tips. If you have an idea for an article and would like to contribute, please email email@example.com. We’d love to hear from you!
Exhibit: World of the Book Celebrating the beauty, significance and influence of literature throughout the ages, the State Library of Victoria has introduced a new exhibition titled World of the Book. This engaging display delves into the history of literature and its diversity between cultures. It includes over 250 new items dating as far back as 2050 BC, and is organised into the following categories: Books and Ideas, Books and Imagination, Exploring the World, Art and Nature, and Artist and Books. The exhibition includes artifacts ranging from medieval manuscripts, sacred religious texts, atlases and maps, philosophy and science books that changed the world and famous works from the literary canon, right through to graphic novels and comics. World of the Book is free to attend and is running until 31 December 2018, making this a perfect candidate for a school excursion. Source: tinyurl.com/y9nvyjqq
Self Regulated Learning New research from the Assessment Research Centre’s study Realising the Potential of Australia’s High Capacity Students—which analysed 3741 Victorian public school students in Grades 5 to 8—suggests a correlation between high performing students and self-regulated learning (SRL). The findings indicate that the top 25% of high academic achievers in the areas of both mathematics and reading comprehension also presented a competency to regulate their own learning. Researchers have determined that SRL incites productive behaviour such as goal setting and metacognition, which empowers students with the ability to self-motivate, reflect and adapt during the learning process. Susan-Marie Harding, the project leader for the study, suggests educators consider the worth of teaching students SRL strategies and skills to aid them in fulfilling better learning practices. Source: tinyurl.com/ydg69ksb 12 | The Book Curator: February 2018
ALIA has compiled an extensive list of ideas for librarians who want to get their students and patrons involved in the event. Anyone who would like to pen a letter of appreciation to their library on social media can share the love using the hashtag #libraryloversday. Free Resources & Ideas: alia.org.au/libraryloversday
Indie Book Awards 2018 Shortlists Now in its’ 10th year, the Indie Book Awards—which recognises and celebrates independent booksellers as the number one supporters of Australian authors —has announced its 2018 shortlist. Titles in the Children’s shortlist are: Pig the Star by Aaron Blabey, I’m Australia Too by Mem Fox, Polly and Buster: The Wayward Witch and the Feelings Monster by Sally Rippin and Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend. Young adult titles are: Beautiful Mess by Claire Christian, Take Three Girls by Cath Crowley, Fiona Wood & Simmone Howell, Untidy Towns by Kate O’Donnell and Wilder Country by Mark Smith. The winners will be announced on 26 March. View the shortlists in each category of the awards here: tinyurl.com/y83df86z
Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature
HCAA 2018 Shortlist
The 2018 shortlist has been released for one of our nation’s richest and most prestigious literary awards. Thirty-seven Australian writers are contesting for the biennial awards’ prize pool of $167,500, which is divided across six national and five South Australian categories.
The Hans Christian Andersen Award is presented every two years to an author and illustrator who have made lasting contributions to children’s literature. Their 2018 shortlist has just been released.
Shortlisted titles for the Children’s Literature Award are: Rockhopping by Trace Balla, Dragonfly Song by Wendy Orr, The Fall by Tristan Bancks, How to Bee by Bren MacDibble, Sister Heart by Sally Morgan and The Other Christy by Oliver Phommavanh. Shortlisted titles for the Young Adult Fiction Award are: Ballad for a Mad Girl by Vikki Wakefield, First Person Shooter by Cameron Raynes, My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier, Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, One Thousand Hills by James Roy and Noel Zihabamwe, and The Boundless Sublime by Lili Wilkinson. The overall winner will receive the Premier’s Award of $25,000. Full Shortlist: tinyurl.com/y7dojwgo
Safer Internet Day This year Safer Internet Day—which calls all internet users to work toward developing an improved, more considerate cyber environment and digital experience, particularly for the benefit of younger users— falls on Tuesday, 6 February. The theme for 2018 is Create, connect and share respect: A better internet starts with you. To help spread awareness for the campaign, organisers have created the official hashtags #SID2018 and #SaferInternetDay. While the 6th of February may be too early in the year for some schools, it is worth setting another date for your school to focus on cyber safety and drawing on the resources provided.
Amongst the five international finalists in the author category is Joy Cowley, one of New Zealand’s most prolific writers. The remaining four candidates are Marie-Aude Murail (France), Farhad Hassanzadeh (Iran), Eiko Kadono (Japan) and Ulf Stark (Sweden). The five finalists in the illustrator category are Pablo Bernasconi (Argentina), Linda Wolfsgruber (Austria), Xiong Liang (China), Iwona Chmielewska (Poland), Igor Oleynikov (Russia) and Albertine (Switzerland). The two winners will be announced at the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) Press Conference on 26 March. Source: tinyurl.com/yacchdw7
Aussie ALMA Nominees The world’s largest international award for children and young adult literature has announced its nominated candidates for the 2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. Among the 235 contenders from 60 different countries are nine Australian authors and illustrators, as well as one Australian organisation: Randa Abdel-Fattah, Morris Gleitzman, Ursula Dubosarsky, Gus Gordon, Robert Ingpen, Margo Lanagan, Kirsty Murray, Margaret Wild, Mem Fox and the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. The winner will be announced via live broadcast from a press conference in Stockholm on 27 March, as well as at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Two Australian authors have previously won the ALMA: Shaun Tan in 2011 and Sonya Hartnett in 2008. Source: tinyurl.com/ybyzeb79
Sydney Writers’ Festival Changes It was recently announced that the Sydney Writer’s Festival will be held a month earlier than previous years due to a temporary shift in venues. The festival’s new locations whilst the Walsh Bay Arts Precinct gets redeveloped are Carriageworks for 2018 and the Seymour Centre for 2019. This year’s program will be released on 15 March, with the festival running 30 April to 6 May. Source: tinyurl.com/yawwhv76
bookcurator.com.au | 13
Ursula Le Guin 1929 to 2018 Science fiction/fantasy luminary Ursula Le Guin passed away on the 22nd January, aged 88 years. Best known for her Earthsea series, the author originally came to fame with her 1969 novel, The Left Hand of Darkness, for which she won both the Nebula and Hugo awards. Amongst a vast array of other awards, she went on to win an additional four Hugo and Nebula awards, as well as a National Book award. Her groundbreaking books dig deeper than the usual fare, exploring issues such as gender roles and other aspects of what it means to be human.
Supporting Librarians: Free Posters While—used wisely—the internet is a wonderful resource, its plethora of information has led some to believe that there is less need for qualified librarians. That erroneous belief couldn’t be further from the truth. In this age of unlimited information the role of librarians is more crucial than ever. Sarah McIntyre has created some fabulous, colourful posters promoting the value of librarians. You can download them free of charge (for non-commercial use) from the following website: tinyurl.com/y7mhxlr9
Understanding traffic light ratings The traffic lights are a grading system to assist schools with conservative collection policies to easily identify which reviews they should read more closely. There are no concerns with the book. There are very mild concerns which we consider unlikely to be an issue for the age group, but you should check them out just in case. Mild to medium concerns, whether this book is suitable will depend on your collection policy. Medium to high concerns. These books may be unsuitable for most schools with conservative collection policies. A high level of concerns which are likely to make this book unsuitable for the vast majority of schools with conservative collection policies. When considering how to rate each book, we weigh up the level of concerns with the quality of the book and the benefits to be gained from it. More information about the ‘scales’ process has been provided in a previous article. For a copy, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Your feedback on the traffic light rating system is very welcome.
14 | The Book Curator: February 2018
Digital Resources and more from the National Film and Sound Archive The National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) provides a host of incredible resources that can be used in the classroom and/or library. This treasure trove includes over 1000 audiovisual clips with teachers’ notes to an Australian History timeline, biographies of extraordinary Australians, information on the Mabo legal case and its ramifications, treasures from our National Heritage List, an Arts Portal, a selective history of Broadcast Media in Australia and much more. tinyurl.com/y9bf8jg9
Australian author’s new series hotly contested After a heated auction and eventual six-figure acquisition by Hardie Grant Egmont, Sydney-based bookseller and debut author Jeremy Lachlan has been contracted for a four book adventure series. Targeted at readers aged 11 and up, the tentatively titled Jane Doe chronicles has been described as ‘Narnia meets Mad Max’ and follows one fierce and brilliant girl whose epic adventure leads her into a deadly labyrinth between worlds. The first title, Jane Doe and the Cradle of All Worlds is due to be published in August this year. Source: tinyurl.com/yb2vtbxj
SO TITLE SO TITLE
Lionel and the Lion's Share Author: Lou Peacock ISBN: 978-1788000925 Published: 02/01/2018 Publisher: Nosy Crow » PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION Lionel the lion does NOT like to share. After all, lions always get the lion's share. He buys all the best instruments from the music shop, all the smartest hats from the hat shop and all the brightest balloons from the balloon stall. But at Chloe's birthday party Lionel goes too far and eats ALL the cake. That's when Lionel's friends decide that enough is enough. » OUR REVIEW There's a lovely play on words in this picture book which deals with selfishness, manners and being kind. Young Lionel thinks it's his birthright to always take more. After all, he should get the lion's share! However one selfish act too many sees him ostracised. He now has plenty of stuff, but no friends. Realising the error of his ways, he grabs everything he has hoarded and heads off to find them. From now on he's got a new motto: a lion shares. As well as a helpful message about social skills this book offers some great vocabulary, including different musical instruments, counting, colours and shapes as well as some easy-to-relate-to emotions.
Yay! It’s Library Day
Macca the Alpaca
Author: Aleesah Darlison ISBN: 978-1925563238 Published: 01/02/2018 Publisher: Wombat Books
Author: Matt Cosgrove ISBN: 978-1743816332 Published: 01/02/2018 Publisher: Koala Books
» PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION
» PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION
Words float around us, drawing pictures in our minds. Every book a kingdom with story treasure to find.
Macca the alpaca is small, kind and friendly. His days are easy and carefree until he accidentally bumps head-first into Harmer the llama. Harmer is big, unkind and never, ever friendly... Can little Macca find a way to teach Harmer a lesson he'll never forget?
Oliver and Ivy love visiting the library with Dad. With stories and their imaginations guiding them, the children go on grand ocean adventures, visit fairy-tale lands, watch elephants dancing in tuxedos and fly across the sapphire sky on a magic carpet. Discover the joy and wonder of books with Oliver and Ivy in Yay! It’s Library Day. Illustrated by children from across Australia, Yay! It’s Library Day reminds us about the importance of libraries and the treasures they hold. » OUR REVIEW A fantastic venture that has combined the efforts of the author and her readers to bring about a book that is illustrated entirely by Australian children. The colourful, mismatched pictures not only showcases the extent of kids' creativity, but perfectly encapsulate this story about the wonderment that can be found inside of books and libraries.
» OUR REVIEW Written in fun rhyming verse, this quirky tale follows an adorable alpaca living a life of innocence ... until he is confronted by a bully. Harmer the llama challenges Macca the alpaca to a contest of strength. Macca may not be anywhere as big or strong as Harmer, but he knows how to use his brains and wins the day. Harmer's magnanimous response to defeat and Macca's kindness in return teaches readers a great message about being considerate, friendly and forgiving. Recommended age: 3 years +
Recommended age: 5 to 8 years
Recommended age: 4 years +
bookcurator.com.au | 15
Room on our Rock
Kate and the Thing
Erik the Lone Wolf
Author: Kate & Jol Temple ISBN: 978-1742764108 Published: 01/02/2018 Publisher: Scholastic
Author: Heidi Cooper Smith ISBN: 978-1925563290 Published: 01/03/2018 Publisher: Wombat Books
Author: Sarah Finan ISBN: 978-1786030108 Published: 24/01/2018 Publisher: Quarto Group UK
» PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION
» PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION
» PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION
The most powerful allegory of refugees to date. Cleverly written and beautifully illustrated, this picture book has one story that can be read two different ways.
Moving to a new place, or starting a new school, can be overwhelming — more than anything you need a friend. Luckily for Kate, she has the Thing. Kate and the Thing is a story of courage and kindness, and the need to belong.
Everybody knows that wolves live in packs. But one little wolf cub, Erik, dreams of escaping the rough and tumble to become a lone wolf. Heading for the great outdoors with nothing but a backpack, he excitedly sniffs the mountain air, feeling free!
When read from front to back, the seals believe there is definitely no room on their rock for others. But when the book is read from back to front, the seals welcome others to shelter on their rock. This heartwarming story is the perfect way to teach compassion to children of all ages. » OUR REVIEW This allegorical tale of overwhelmed seals seeking refuge from the tumultuous sea delivers a powerful and emotionally complex message about rejection and acceptance, despair and hope, fear and encouragement.
» OUR REVIEW An endearing story of friendship that sees a young girl overcome her new school nerves with the help of a Thing that follows her around offering support, fun and a sense of belonging. Eventually, the Thing coaxes Kate out of her shell and she no longer needs him ... but the new boy does. Or maybe he just needs a friend, like Kate? Recommended age: 5 to 8 years
But when he gets into trouble out on the mountainside, will the pack be there to protect him? A gorgeous story about friendship and freedom from exciting debut, Sarah Finan. » OUR REVIEW Sometimes rules can seem a little stifling, especially for an adventurous young wolf. With the pack constantly around, Erik finds it difficult to get any space or have any fun, so he decides the life of a lone wolf is for him.
The cleverly-written verse allows for the book to be read from frontto-back or back-to-front, presenting two different versions of the one story in accompaniment with beautiful watercolour illustrations.
Initially he enjoys the freedom, but when he ends up in an icy situation, he's very happy when the wolf pack comes to his aid. A great story with fabulous illustrations and a salient lesson about healthy interdependence.
Recommended age: 4 years +
Recommended age: 4 years +
16 | The Book Curator: February 2018
Storybook Stars Author: Jim Dewar ISBN: 978-1743810194 Published: 01/02/2018 Publisher: Koala Books » PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION The party's on! Yippee! Let's cheer! Storybook stars are gathered here! They've left their tales and left their rhymes to meet and talk about old times!
Parmesan the Reluctant Racehorse Author: Jacqui Halpin ISBN: 978-0994626929 Published: 01/10/2017 Publisher: Other » PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION
Can you guess who is arriving at the storybook stars' annual picnic party? Be sure to look carefully one particularly hungry guest isn't quite what they seem.
Parmesan, the racehorse, thinks he’s a dog. Instead of training with other horses, he’s off with his doggy friends, playing doggy games. Will he be ready to run like a racehorse in the Spring Carnival? A humorous light-hearted tale that celebrates the joy of being yourself and running your own race.
» OUR REVIEW
» OUR REVIEW
This interactive story will engage readers with its rhyming prompts inviting them to guess who each well-known character is as they make their debut at the picnic. A fun idea that brings some of kids' favourite fairy tales together into one book, with Easter eggs hidden in each illustration and a surprising twist on the final page. Recommended age: 4 years +
A silly, comedic story about a racehorse who is adamant he was born a dog. Parmesan's trainer, Joe, is under a lot of pressure to make Parmesan perform at the Spring Carnival, but simply can't get the stubborn horse to race when he's happy just playing fetch! Accepting him for the way he is, Joe finds a solution that allows Parmesan to embrace his quirkiness AND compete in the Spring Carnival, fulfilling his legacy as the offspring of two great racehorses. Recommended age: 3 to 7 years
Clover’s Big Ideas Author: Georgie Donaghey ISBN: 978-0994626967 Published: 01/10/2017 Publisher: Other » PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION Being the smallest in the paddock isn’t easy. Clover is always being teased. When three naughty lambs go too far, Clover and her big ideas step in. Discover how Clover shows being little makes her more determined and clever than they could ever imagine. » OUR REVIEW Relaying the importance of kindness and self-acceptance, a little lamb named Clover confronts her bullies by extending a helping hoof and showing compassion when one of them is stuck in an awkward situation ... perhaps the mean trio shouldn't have aggravated the intimidating bull in the paddock next door by crossing his fence! Luckily, Clover knows that despite her size, she can be the bigger person. Her goodwill towards the misunderstood bull allows her to prove the power of empathy to herself, the three naughty lambs and readers. Recommended age: 4 to 8 years
bookcurator.com.au | 17
A fun look at strengths and how some excel at particular jobs. Very colourful and fun illustrations accompany an enjoyable and humorous story. Recommended age: 4 years +
The Five Misfits Author: Beatrice Alemagna ISBN: 978-1847806376 Published: 06/08/2015 Publisher: Quarto Group UK » PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION A quirky, allegorical picture book from the multi award-winning creator of A Lion in Paris. There were five of them altogether. Five misfits. The five had never amounted to much in life, nor did they feel like doing anything. And then one day, from who knows where, came an extraordinary fellow... When Mr Perfect comes to stay, the five misfits find themselves questioning what their purpose in life is. Can they teach him that not fitting in is more fun than trying to be perfect? » OUR REVIEW Translated from the Italian I Cinque Malfatti, the odd rhythm of the prose beautifully compliments the quirky collage art illustrations and poignant themes within the story. This unusual, amusing read follows five dejected, catastrophic characters with no prospects or self-esteem. When a haughty stranger arrives unannounced to assure them of their worthlessness, the misfits are spurred into discovering the talents behind their peculiarities and quickly realise they are perfectly happy being imperfect. Recommended age: 4 years +
18 | The Book Curator: February 2018
Hark It's Me, Ruby Lee! Author: Lisa Shanahan ISBN: 978-0734416551 Published: 25/07/2017 Publisher: Hachette » PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION Ruby Lee is a little girl with a very big imagination. Every week Ruby's teacher, Mrs Majestic-Jones, asks special people to do special jobs in her class. Ruby would do anything to be the messenger, as she's the best in her class at announcing. But will her wild imagination get in the way? A delightful story about an adorable and irrepressible heroine from CBCA award-winning author Lisa Shanahan. » OUR REVIEW We all have our strong suits and although Ruby Lee longs to be chosen as class messenger (and believes she would be excellent at it) in reality her strengths lie elsewhere. It's not that she can't be trusted, it's just that her very active imagination creates interesting scenarios along the way that distract her from her task! Forget about losing notes, Ruby even manages to lose her best friend (thankfully he turns up again). However, when a bird flies into the classroom, Ruby is the only one to keep a cool head. Pulling a crust from her pocket she stays very still until the pigeon gently alights on her arm and she can carry him from the room. As a consequence, she is permanently appointed as the Special Emergency Officer, which makes her very happy.
Life of the Party!: The Susie K Files # 1 Author: Shamini Flint ISBN: 978-1760296681 Published: 02/01/2018 Publisher: Allen & Unwin » PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION Susie K likes science instead of netball and has the class goldfish for a best friend. But Susie's mum finds it hard to believe that she's happy that way. She's constantly trying to push Susie (with the best of intentions, of course!) to be something she's not. And the last thing Susie wants is to disappoint her mum... Susie's mum is thrilled to hear that Susie is going to Clementine's party ... except she hasn't been invited yet. So even though Susie would much rather stay home to read about endangered animals, she uses all her problem-solving skills to become the life of the party! In this fresh new series find out how Susie's unconventional problemsolving skills + Mum's optimistically high expectations = hilarious results. » OUR REVIEW In this new series for early readers, we follow the misadventures of science geek Susie K. She likes
nothing better than reading, playing with her chemistry set and solving problems. Her mum, on the other hand, wants her to be popular and good at everything. Unfortunately science isn't high on her list. When she badgers Susie about being popular at school, Susie tells her she has been invited to a party. Her mum's delighted but Susie not so much - now she has to wrangle an invite! Using her problem-solving skills she succeeds and her alternative party ideas are a big hit. This is a book which could be read on two levels. For the target age group it's about fitting in, peer pressure, adapting and overcoming problems and being yourself. For parents, could be a timely reminder about the expectations placed on their children. On balance, Susie manages to remain her own person and handle each situation in her own unique way.
Major themes: family, school, peer pressure, fitting in, overcoming problems, being yourself
Content notes: This book is written very comically/tongue in cheek. As part of the nonsense Susie reports that her full name is Susanna Saathiavanni Kanagaratnam-Smith. Her mother (a Sri Lankan refugee) 'consulted a Sri Lankan soothsayer who consulted the stars and the planets and told my mum that I had to be called Saathiavanni or TERRIBLE THINGS would happen to me. What, pray tell, could be worse THAN being called Saathiavanni?' Refer to page 15.
Recommended age: 6 to 10 years Suitable class novel: YES Good read rating: %%%% Literary value rating: %%%%
Major themes: family, school, sports day, trying different sports, chess, strategy, problem solving Content notes: Not applicable. SO TITLE Recommended age: 6 to 10 years Suitable class novel: YES Good read rating: %%%% Literary value rating: %%%%
Game Changer!: The Susie K Files # 2 Author: Shamini Flint ISBN: 978-1760296698 Published: 02/01/2018 Publisher: Allen & Unwin » PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION Susie's mum is excited to hear that Susie is competing in Sports Day at school ... except Susie hasn't found a sport she's any good at. But even though Susie would much rather stay home and investigate deforestation, she uses all her problem-solving skills to become a game changer! » OUR REVIEW Now that Susie's mum thinks Susie is popular, she decides that Susie should be a star athlete at the upcoming school sports day. With little alternative, Susie has to find the right sport for her. Eventually she stumbles upon the perfect sport which plays to her mental strengths and doesn't require any physical abilities. Though she's never played chess before, she takes to it like a duck to water and soon the whole Sports Day result hangs on whether she wins the final. A good reminder that we all have different strengths and not being caught up on the opinions of others. There's good advice around strategy and problem solving, and this installment also flows better than the first book. There are lots of drawings with text in speech bubbles, comic book style, making this series helpful for reluctant as well as early readers.
Sam's Surfboard Showdown Author: Allayne L. Webster & Amanda S. Clarke ISBN: 978-1742991894 Published: 01/02/2018 Publisher: Omnibus » PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION Ten-year-old Sam Sumner is the best sportsman at Robe Primary School. He loves Nippers surf club the best. That's until Finn Hester moves to town. Finn is good at everything and Sam isn't happy about it. Likewise, Sam's mum feels a bit intimidated by Finn's mum's cooking - she used to be the best cook in town! Finn joins Nippers, much to Sam's displeasure. A special competition is announced: a chance to win a surfboard signed by Mick Fanning. Sam has his heart set on it, but so does Finn. Who will win the big race? Will Sam and Finn remain sworn enemies? And who is the best cook in town? A story about rivalry and friendship. » OUR REVIEW
bookcurator.com.au | 19
Sam is the best swimmer in his Nippers club. He’s used to being the best at school as well, until new student Finn Hester comes along. Finn seems better than Sam at almost everything. Then he joins Nippers and beats Sam in the training heat. He even rivals him in a burping competition. When the Nippers get an opportunity to win a surfboard signed by surfing legend Mick Fanning, the competition is on. As Sam gets to know Finn, he gets a glimpse of the lonely kid trying to impress the dad who’s leaving him behind. Sam is torn between feeling for Finn and his own desire to win. Then Sam sprains his ankle, which takes him out of training practice. The rivalry even extends to their mothers, who are both incredible cake bakers. Sam’s mum is so caught up in trying to cook the most impressive food that she accidentally leaves the oven on one night. The big day finally arrives and Sam’s ankle is improved enough that he can race. Sam and Finn are head to head until Sam hears screaming and turns to see Finn in danger in the water. He ignores the race and goes back to save Finn, which leaves their friend Ziggy to win the surfboard. Ultimately Sam realises that Nippers is about saving lives, not about winning. He and Finn become friends, as do their mothers, who end up opening a bakery together. An enjoyable, encouraging read for young sports fans.
Major themes: Nippers, swimming, sport, competition, family situation, broken families, trying to impress a parent, friendship, priorities
Content notes: Not applicable.
Recommended age: 5 to 8 years Suitable class novel: NO Good read rating: %%%% Literary value rating: %%%%
20 | The Book Curator: February 2018
educational, the novel explains a situation that can threaten our wildlife and impact the environment. It also shows young children how to care for sick animals and save their lives in the event of a disaster.
Major themes: loyalty, kindness to
The Picky Puffin: Zoe's Rescue Zoo Author: Amelia Cobb ISBN: 978-0857639837 Published: 23/08/2017 Publisher: Nosy Crow
animals, survival, displacement, man’s impact/destruction on the environment, friendship, love
Content notes: Not applicable.
Recommended age: 6 to 8 Years Suitable class novel: NO Good read rating: %%%% Literary value rating: %%%%
» PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION Puffins are Zoe's favourite ever animal, so when Poppy arrives at the Rescue Zoo, Zoe is very happy to help her settle in. But Poppy is very picky! She doesn't like her enclosure ... or her burrow ... or even her food! Can Zoe and Meep work out what is making Poppy the puffin so picky, and come up with a plan to make the little puffin feel happy in her new home? » OUR REVIEW Zoe has been gifted with the ability to talk to animals; but no one except the animals knows her secret! In The Picky Puffin, Great Uncle Horace arrives home from Iceland with a homeless baby puffin whose home has been destroyed by an oil spill. Zoe makes the baby puffin the subject of her school project and class excursion. She names the puffin Piper and with plenty of love Zoe and her pet lemur, Meep, eventually re-settle it into a new enclosure at the zoo. However, Piper the Puffin is still sad. Much to Zoe’s delight, Great Uncle Horace comes to the rescue, adopting a group of puffins from a sea-life rescue centre only a few miles from the Rescue Zoo. Piper the Puffin is delighted and happy at last with the addition of five new puffin friends. Partly
Patty and the Shadows: Game Day! # 2 Author: Patty Mills ISBN: 978-1760295110 Published: 26/07/2017 Publisher: Allen & Unwin » PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION There's a new team in town: the Shadows. And sport-mad Patty Mills has something to prove ... Tyson is Patty's arch-rival. And when he gives Patty a hard time about his people, it really hurts. But it makes Patty more determined than ever. Playing for the Shadows, Patty and his friends have a chance to shine and show that Indigenous kids can do anything. After a huge improvement, they make the grand final. And the result will come down to the final seconds of the game.
» OUR REVIEW
» PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION
In this new series of books Australian Olympic basketballer and NBA star Patty Mills helps show how dedication, practice and hard work are just as important to success as raw talent. Though fictional, there's a definite biographical element. The doubts, pressures and conflicts are all something which budding athletes will relate to.
The bad news? The world is ending. The good news? The Bad Guys are back to save it! Sure, they might have to borrow a rocket ... And there might be something nasty in one of the spacesuits ... And Mr Piranha might have eaten too many bean burritos ... But seriously, how BAD can it be? How bad?! SUPER BAD. It’s one small step for the Sort-Of-InternationalLeague-Of-Good-Guys-Guys. Its one giant leap for The Bad Guys.
The books are well-written, fastpaced reads with plenty of action on and off the court. After his first season of basketball, Patty is invited to join a new team of indigenous and non-Australian players. His nemesis and previous teammate Tyson is giving him a hard time, picking on his height and denigrating his people. The tables are turned when Patty enjoys a growth spurt and beats Tyson's team in the grand final.
Major themes: basketball, school work, friends, teamwork, pressure, bullying, indigenous culture, practice
Content notes: Not applicable.
Recommended age: 6 to 9 years Suitable class novel: NO Good read rating: %%%%% Literary value rating: %%%%
» OUR REVIEW Still copping a lot of negative press for their last effort, the Bad Guys have to launch a space mission if they are to save the Earth and become the heroes they crave to be. Dr Marmalade is operating from the Moon but no-one believes them. With the aid of Agent Fox they steal a rocket and blast off. Only one issue arises; Piranha has developed a taste for burritos and in confined spaces the results are hideous. However, when he finds himself in Mr Wolf's space suit his gaseous eruptions save the day and bring an end to Dr Marmalade's zombie ray. While the Earth is saved, they discover that their nemesis is in fact an alien and so a new story begins. Another fun adventure in this zany graphic novel/early reader series.
Major themes: space, rockets, aliens, quest, bad guy heroes, saving the planet, teamwork, mission
Content notes: Not applicable.
Intergalactic Gas: Bad Guys Episode 5 Author: Aaron Blabey ISBN: 978-1760279479 Published: 01/05/2017 Publisher: Scholastic
Recommended age: 7 to 10 years Suitable class novel: NO Good read rating: %%%% Literary value rating: %%%%
Barney and the Secret of the French Spies Author: Jackie French ISBN: 978-1460751305 Published: 22/01/2018 Publisher: Harper Collins » PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION The new title in the critically acclaimed series that explores Australia's early Colonial secret history. In 1798 orphaned Barney Bean now has a flourishing farm in the New South Wales colony and everything he ever dreamed of ... except his childhood friend Elsie. But when Elsie falls ill and Barney rushes to be by her side, he finally learns the deadly secret she has been hiding. Who is this strange and beautiful girl who will not speak? And could France ever attack the isolated colony? Written by award-winning author Jackie French and superbly illustrated by Mark Wilson, this fourth book in The Secret Histories series explores extraordinary and untold stories from Australia's past, including the female French botanist who could only work disguised as a man, French and English spies, and wars between two empires that threatened even a far-off colony. » OUR REVIEW A lot has changed in the 10 years since Barney was a convict brat. He’s now the owner of a fine property with good quality breeding sheep and his own cottage.
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All he wants now is to marry Elsie, the orphan girl the Johnsons rescued when they rescued him. But while he’s thinking about how to ask her, an urgent message arrives. Elsie is desperately ill and the Johnsons are fearful it maybe typhus. Barney is to come at once. When he gets to the Johnson’s, he is told that Elsie is in the isolation hut at the hospital. Elsie is seriously ill but that’s not why she’s there. The isolation is for a far more serious reason – Elsie, who has lived in silence for the past 10 years, has been speaking in French while unconscious and delirious. If anyone hears her, she is in danger of being branded a French spy. Barney is desperate to protect her, but first he needs to know the truth. When Elsie recovers she tells him her story. As it unfolds the reader will learn about the French and their role in Australia’s past – something that most will be unaware of. An enjoyable story that explores gender roles, history and the transformed life of two fictitious orphans whose lives were transformed by the kindness of Reverend Johnson and his wife. This book could possibly be read as a standalone but greater enjoyment will be found in reading the previous books in the excellent Secret Histories series, following Barney and Elsie’s story from the beginning.
Major themes: convicts, Australian / French history, colonial history, botany, expedition, new life, gender roles, kindness, friendship, love, hope
Content notes: Not applicable.
Recommended age: 12 years + Suitable class novel: YES Good read rating: %%%% Literary value rating: %%%%
22 | The Book Curator: February 2018
The Wild Robot Author: Peter Brown ISBN: 978-1848127272 Published: 24/01/2018 Publisher: Bonnier » PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION When robot Roz opens her eyes for the first time, she discovers that she is alone on a remote, wild island. She has no idea how she got there or what her purpose is - but she knows she needs to survive. After battling a fierce storm and escaping a vicious bear attack, she realises that her only hope for survival is to adapt to her surroundings and learn from the island's unwelcoming animal inhabitants. As Roz slowly befriends the animals, the island starts to feel like home until, one day, her mysterious past comes back to haunt her. From bestselling and award-winning author and illustrator Peter Brown comes a heartwarming and actionpacked novel about what happens when nature and technology collide. By turns funny, moving, surprising and dramatic, this is a novel that is as thought-provoking as it is enchanting. » OUR REVIEW When a cargo ship sinks during a storm, Roz is the only of the 500 robots on board who survives. Washed up in her crate on a remote island, she's inadvertently activated by inquisitive otters. Having no other reference point, her one instinct is to survive. She learns quickly and camouflages herself in order to study the native fauna better. Soon she learns the animals' language and is
able to converse well with them, although they are suspicious of her. This changes when an unrelated accident takes the lives of a family of geese, leaving just one lone egg who Roz determines to save. This act of 'motherly' instinct resonates with the animals whose attitude towards her thaws very slightly. Needing shelter for her 'baby' she enlists the beavers to help build a sturdy lodge. Here she raises Brightbill and even teaches him to fly by observing how the other birds do it. Eventually he has to migrate with the other geese and Roz is left to face the winter alone. The season is particularly harsh and when she keeps finding dead birds, Roz realises she must do something. She lights a fire in her lodge and invites the animals in (under a noeating truce of course!). She then builds more lodges around the island for the animals and teaches them the beneficial use of fire. Because of her actions many animals are saved from the brutal winter. By the Spring, Roz has become almost legendary to the animals who now consider her a friend. Brightbill and the geese return, but soon trouble brews. A search for the missing cargo ship and lost robots brings three recovery robots to the island. They have only one purpose and can't be reasoned with. With the selfless help of her animal friends Roz manages to destroy all three, but knowing that more will come she decides to return on the robots' aircraft to the factory that created her, hoping that she will find answers there to her many questions. A truly unique, quirky and endearing tale, full of pathos and wit, while also provoking further questions and deeper thinking. If the main character had been human or animal, rather than robot, the scenarios would have had a completely different meaning. By using a robot, the author immediately changes a
familiar dynamic and invites us to question life, love and friendship.
treacherous voyage to find the mythical, healing island of Avalon.
Though outwardly simple, this is a beautifully woven story with each act of kindness building on the last until, in the end, all Roz's animal friends would willingly give up their lives for her. Powerful, gripping and not easily forgotten, we highly recommend this book.
But even as their journey takes them over land and sea, back at home, Calib's human friend Galahad discovers that the true enemy may have already found a way inside the castle walls ...
Major themes: robots, artificial
Calib Christopher is a tawny mouse competing in the Harvest Tournament as a graduating page. He and his fellow pages must demonstrate the three essential qualities of a knight - bravery, strength and wisdom. His testing is interrupted by the need to rescue a squirrel who's about to drown. The squirrel, a stranger named Saffron, is ill and brings news of a terrible sickness amongst the villagers.
intelligence, survival, kindness, nature, isolation, animal kingdom, friendship, instinct, motherly love, self sacrifice
Content notes: Not applicable.
Recommended age: 9 to 14 years Suitable class novel: YES Good read rating: %%%%% Literary value rating: %%%%%
Voyage to Avalon: The Mice of the Round Table # 2 Author: Julie Leung ISBN: 978-1848126053 Published: 22/11/2017 Publisher: Bonnier » PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION Young mouse Calib Christopher has nearly completed his training to become a squire to the Knights of the Round Table when news of a deadly plague comes to the castle. Soon all of Camelot is showing signs of the illness, animals and humans alike. Desperate to find a cure, Calib and his friend Cecily set off on a
» OUR REVIEW
Before she dies she makes Calib promise that he will find the mythical island of Avalon, in order to find a cure before it is too late. With the illness quickly spreading inside the castle walls - affecting both animals and their human counterparts Calib and his fellow pages set out on their quest. Their path is filled with friends and foes - and sometimes it is hard to tell the difference. Meanwhile Galahad (son of Lancelot) is searching Merlin's scrolls trying to find something that might help. He is not the only one looking 'Red' (aka Mordred) - a new addition to the castle is up to more than it seems, and none of it good. With his uncle, King Arthur, in his sick bed, Red's plans to take over the castle on behalf of Morgan le Fay will only be thwarted with the help of Lady of the Lake (a snowy white egret) and the courage of a small, furry band of adventurers. It soon becomes clear that while fighters are what the many think is needed, it is healers who will change the world... This is a fabulous read which can be enjoyed as a standalone tale, but is even better when read in
sequence. The first book, A Tail of Camelot was reviewed in our September 2017 edition.
Favourite quote: What is most important to a knight: bravery, strength, or wisdom? ... This time [Calib] had an answer: The most important quality in a knight is kindness. (p344)
Major themes: Camelot, King Arthur, Arthurian legend, bravery, strength, wisdom, kindness, friendship, good versus evil, problem solving, teamwork, betrayal, courage
Content notes: As you would expect in a book that draws on Arthurian legend, there are (mild) references to magical objects (Excalibur and other items) an evil witch (Morgan le Fay) and foretelling the future (e.g. p81, 156, 275-6). An illness strikes the castle which turns out to be a curse related to a magical object.
Recommended age: 9 to 14 years Suitable class novel: NO Good read rating: %%%%% Literary value rating: %%%%%
The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. Author: Kate Messner ISBN: 978-1681195476 Published: 01/01/2018 Publisher: Bloomsbury » PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION In the mountains of rural Vermont, fall is a season of beauty and transformation ... but not for Gianna
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Z. With less than one week to collect twenty-five leaves for a science project, her spot at cross-country sectionals is in serious peril. Plus with a dad who runs a funeral parlor out of the basement, a grandma who keeps losing her teeth, and a rival trying to steal her spot on the team, Gee just wishes life could leave her alone to finish her project.
Meanwhile her grandmother is undergoing medical tests, with Alzheimer’s Disease a likely diagnosis. Yet the book finishes on a hopeful note as the family learns to adjust to her growing memory loss.
But when Nonna disappears one afternoon, suddenly some things seem more important than projects and races. Gianna Z. will have readers rooting for her-and maybe even for science projects-from the very first page of this funny and poignant novel about family, friendship, and being true to yourself. Winner of the E.B. White Read Aloud Award for Older Readers.
Major themes: families, friendships, relationships, school, aging, death, Alzheimer’s Disease
This is an easy to read, well written story with a subtle message of the importance of relationships over achievements.
Content notes: Not applicable.
Recommended age: 10 to 13 years Suitable class novel: NO Good read rating: %%%%% Literary value rating: %%%%%
» OUR REVIEW The main character of this schoolbased novel is Gianna Zales, often called Gee, who loves art, sport and even poetry, but not science. However to be eligible to represent the school in the cross country, her science teacher has stipulated she must pass her latest science project, which is a problem because Gianna hasn’t even started. The science project involves collecting 25 leaves from different trees, plus identifying and documenting them. Fortunately her good friend Zig, whose real name is Rigby, is a science whiz, and eager to help. However, Gianna has more pressing problems. Her grandmother lives with the family and has become quite forgetful of late. Gianna’s Dad runs his own funeral business and her mother is busy with the book work, plus her other interests serving on several committees. No one seems to taking her Grandma’s growing forgetfulness seriously. The story concludes with Gianna finishing her science project after many obstructions including a sabotage attempt from a running rival, a hunt for her lost grandma and an interfering mother.
24 | The Book Curator: February 2018
Libby in the Middle Author: Gwyneth Rees ISBN: 978-1408852774 Published: 01/01/2018 Publisher: Bloomsbury
bear to leave her boyfriend behind. Soon there are secrets everywhere. Perfect for readers of Cathy Cassidy, Jacqueline Wilson and Judy Blume, Libby in the Middle is a story about family, friendship and discovering where you fit into the world. » OUR REVIEW Middle child Libby is on the precipice of puberty in this endearing book about sibling rivalry, belonging and family secrets. Largely influenced by her older sister Bella, who is facing her own set of teenage problems with her boyfriend, Libby grapples with friendship issues and the gradual changes to her physical self. Libby in the Middle will resonate with readers who have relocated with their families to a completely new setting and who have had to deal with making new friends just as Libby does in the book after her move from town to the country. Instances of theft and lies feature in the story and these are dealt with through exposure and adequate consequences for wrong actions. Long held family secrets involving Libby’s father are also an underlying action in the book and these receive resolutions that are meant to benefit the relationships between parent and child. A genuinely lovable read, Libby in the Middle is a sound experience for older primary readers.
Major themes: sibling rivalry, family
» PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION
secrets, belonging, family relocation
Libby and her big sister Bella used to be close, but lately it's felt like Bella is a closed book - she's sarcastic and mean and obsessed with her boyfriend. Then there's six-year-old Grace, the baby of the family. Whenever Mum and Dad aren't at work, it's all about Grace. So where does Libby fit in?
Content notes: Bella steals money
Things change suddenly when the girls move to the tiny village where their dad grew up as their bossy Aunt Thecla has offered to pay for them to go to a posh new school. Libby doesn't mind, but Bella can't
to support her boyfriend in secret (p110); Bella displays insolence and argues with her dad (p125-127); Bella lies to her parents to avoid serious consequences (p204-205).
Recommended age: 11 to 13 years Suitable class novel: YES Good read rating: %%%%% Literary value rating: %%%%
I Swapped My Brother on the Internet Author: Jo Simmons ISBN: 978-1408877753 Published: 01/02/2018 Publisher: Bloomsbury » PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION Everyone has dreamed of being able to get rid of their brother or sister at one time or another but for Jonny, the dream is about to become a reality with SiblingSwap.com! What could be better than someone awesome to replace Ted, Jonny's obnoxious older brother. But finding the perfect brother isn't easy, as Jonny discovers when Sibling Swap sends him a line of increasingly bizarre replacements: first a merboy, then a brother raised by meerkats, and then the ghost of Henry the Eighth! What's coming next?! Suddenly old Ted isn't looking so bad. But can Jonny ever get him back? A hilarious tale of wish fulfilment gone wrong that every child will relate to.
siblingswap.com. However, Jonny's expectations of a perfectly matched brother are not realised, as a range of bizarre replacements continue to arrive. A weirder bunch you couldn't find, but even one who could be his twin somehow doesn't stack up against Ed. Eventually realising his mistake, Jonny sets off with the aid of his pseudo brothers to release Ted from the Sibling Swap warehouse. An entertaining, zany read with Jonny eventually realising that only family truly knows you best, and that he may be better off with the brother/‘devil’ he knows!
Major themes: brothers, family, friends, school, adventure, sibling relationships, geeks, rescue
Content notes: One of the 'replacement' brothers sent by Sibling Swap is the 'ghost of Henry VIII'. It's nonsense humour, nothing of concern.
Recommended age: 8 to 12 years Suitable class novel: NO Good read rating: %%%% Literary value rating: %%%%
» OUR REVIEW There's an interesting premise to this book, which is bound to appeal to all those who have ever felt the desire to change their sibling! Brothers and sisters can be annoying, until you peel away the veneer and discover where their true heart lies. That is the essence of this amusing novel. Jonny is fed up with his older brother Ted, who always seems to be putting him down. A solution arises with the advent of a new website
The Rise of Wolves Author: Kerr Thomson ISBN: 978-1911077695 Published: 01/02/2018 Publisher: Chicken House » PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION Innis Munro is walking home across the bleak wilderness of Nin Island when he hears the chilling howl of a wolf. But there are no wolves on
the island, not since they were hunted to extinction, centuries ago. He decides to investigate his island home and accepts an ancient challenge: he who jumps the Bonnie Laddies Leap wins a fortune. As the wolves rise from the darkness of history, and longburied secrets resurface, Innis's adventure truly begins... » OUR REVIEW When news breaks that Nin Island is slated as the site for 58 wind turbines that will impact Innis’ beloved Barrens (the wild centre of the island), and ruin his best friend Kat’s quest to get it named an International Dark Sky Discovery Site, Innis knows he must do something … if only he knew what. There have been no wolves on Nin Island (Scotland) for 300 years, so when he sees one in the Barrens, not even his Gramps believes him. While trying to find out where the wolf came from, he stumbles across a private ‘wildlife sanctuary’ where it quickly becomes clear he is very unwelcome. Then the boy he saw at the sanctuary – Lachlan Geddes – turns up at school. Even worse, he is quickly making friends with Kat. While sneaking around the wildlife sanctuary, Innis found a carved rock near a cleft in the cliff. A teacher helps him research the story behind it. In 1788 Bonnie Prince Charles escaped from the Jacobites when a group of wolves (recognising the true King of Scotland) let him pass and he was able to leap the cleft in the rock and get away. The Laird, who was the last of his line, had fought alongside Charles in his youth. In his eccentric old age, he decided to create a challenge – whoever can repeat Charles’ leap will be the next Laird. It is also said that the wolves of Nin Island will know who theLaird should be … If Innis gets named as Laird, he will control the common land on the island and can stop the wind turbines from being built. He’d also
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have the money to ensure his beloved Gramps – who is showing the increasing effects of Parkinsons – can stay on the island. Innis carefully measures the gap and it doesn’t seem that big, so he loudly proclaims his intent on social media. Before long an extreme sports challenge has tracked him down and he naively agrees to a deal allowing them to broadcast his attempt. There’s just one problem … Innis has dyscalculia and his measurements are way off. He’d back out but there’s no way the media is going to let him off the hook. But there are wolves on Nin – the last wild wolves in all of Scotland – a secret that has been closely held by the Geddes family for centuries. And the wolves seem to recognise Innis in some way … This is a wonderful story set on a wild Scottish island with some valuable exploration of balancing the need for sustainable energy with other environmental protection factors.
Major themes: Scotland, Inner Hebrides, wolves, legend, Jacobites, Bonnie Prince Charles, friendship, Christian faith, family, adventure, grandfather/grandchild relationship, myths and legends, media exploitation, environmental protection, sustainable energy.
Content notes: 1. Language: ‘bloody hell’ (p257), ‘oh God’ (p123, 147, 153, 190, 210,220, 249). 2. Brief reference to Gramps drinking alcohol (p237-8)
Recommended age: 9 to 13 years Suitable class novel: YES Good read rating: %%%%% Literary value rating: %%%%%
26 | The Book Curator: February 2018
who was looking for something of Jonah's. Auden had heard that Jonah was working on something that could cure Auden's condition - could this be it?
The Extraordinary Colours of Auden Dare Author: Zillah Bethell ISBN: 978-1848126084 Published: 25/10/2017 Publisher: Piccadilly Press » PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION I am how I've always been. My name is Auden Dare. I am eleven years old. Auden Dare has an unusual perspective on life: he cannot see in colour. He's always had this rare condition - and life is beginning to get harder for Auden. The war for water that is raging across the world is getting a little closer all the time. It hardly rains any more, anywhere. Everyone is thirsty all the time, and grubby, and exhausted. Auden has to learn to live without his father, who is away fighting, and has had to move to a new town with his mother, and start a new school, where everyone thinks he's a weirdo. But when he meets Vivi Rookmini, a smiling girl bright with cleverness, his hopes begin to lift. It soon becomes clear to Auden, though, that there are some strange things afoot in his new hometown. He and his mother have moved into the old cottage of his recently-dead uncle Jonah Bloom - a scientist and professor at the university. The place is in disarray - and although Auden's mother tells him it's because Jonah was a messy old thing, Auden knows differently. Someone else did this - someone
Then Auden and Vivi make an extraordinary discovery. Hidden away under the shed at the bottom of Jonah's garden is an enigmatic and ingenious robot, who calls himself Paragon. A talking, walking, human-like robot. Apparently built by Jonah - but why? The answer to this will take Auden and Vivi on a thrilling journey of discovery as they seek to find out just what exactly Paragon is - and what link he has to Auden - and find that the truth is bigger and more wonderful than either of them could have imagined. » OUR REVIEW This is a heart warming story set in an interesting future world which culminates in scarce resource problem solved and world peace. Eleven-year-old Auden Dare and his mum leave their London place to move to Cambridge because his uncle, scientist Dr Jonah Blood has died and left them his cottage. He also left Auden half a meteorite called Snowflake 843A. He left the other half, Snowflake 843B, with a friend, Six Six, who lives at Trinity College where he worked. Auden who has achromatopsia, a rare inability to see colour, meets Vivi Rookmini, his appointed School Buddy, at his new school. Vivi is Six Six. Her mother is the college seamstress. Dr Bloom's cottage and office have both been vandalised. Obviously someone has been searching for something. The world is at war over water. It has stopped raining. Water is tightly controlled by the Water Allocation Board. Auden's father is away fighting. Auden and Vivi discover a humanoid robot, Paragon who quotes poetry hidden in an underground room. They also discovered a
pram-like piece of equipment lacking a battery in the back of Jonah's shed. Paragon has extensive knowledge and advanced skills but no obvious purpose. Auden thinks Paragon might be part of his uncle's efforts to help him see colour - the Rainbow Project. Auden suspects his uncle's death was not from natural causes. He learns from the school bully that his father is in prison for desertion. The Water Allocation Board (WAB) are looking for Paragon. Auden and Vivi visit a friend of Dr Bloom's, Dr Milo Treble. He fixed a light on paragon. None of them realise this will alert the WAB to Paragon's whereabouts. The WAB captures them. It's revealed Paragon was meant to be a robot soldier. The WAB plans to dismantle and copy him. They escape. Paragon has discovered Auden's father was imprisoned for stopping to rescue children from a burning car. He also discovered his real purpose. He is the power source for the pram-like gadget which is a rain machine. His outer shell remains in the park, a nesting place for birds. The rain machine is copied and supplied to the world so the war is over. Auden's dad is cleared of charges and released from prison. Dr Treble invents a gadget which allows Auden to hear colours. He's also courting Vivi's mum. A very enjoyable, interesting story.
Major themes: water shortage, friendship, robots, science, achromatopsia
Content notes: Not applicable.
Recommended age: 9 to 13 years Suitable class novel: YES Good read rating: %%%% Literary value rating: %%%%
From the award-winning Jaclyn Moriarty comes a fantastic tale of high intrigue, grand adventure and an abundance of aunts. » OUR REVIEW
The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone Author: Jaclyn Moriarty ISBN: 978-1760297176 Published: 25/10/2017 Publisher: Allen & Unwin » PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION Bronte Mettlestone's parents ran away to have adventures when she was a baby, leaving her to be raised by her Aunt Isabelle and the Butler. She's had a perfectly pleasant childhood of afternoon teas and riding lessons - and no adventures, thank you very much. But Bronte's parents have left extremely detailed (and bossy) instructions for Bronte in their will. The instructions must be followed to the letter, or disaster will befall Bronte's home. She is to travel the kingdoms and empires, perfectly alone, delivering special gifts to her ten other aunts. There is a farmer aunt who owns an orange orchard and a veterinarian aunt who specialises in dragon care, a pair of aunts who captain a cruise ship together and a former rockstar aunt who is now the reigning monarch of a small kingdom. Now, armed with only her parents' instructions, a chest full of strange gifts and her own strong will, Bronte must journey forth to face dragons, Chief Detectives and pirates - and the gathering suspicion that there might be something more to her extremely inconvenient quest than meets the eye...
Ten-year-old Bronte lives with an aunt and her butler. Her parents mysteriously disappeared on an adventure when she was a baby. The story begins with the news that Bronte’s parents are dead. This doesn’t overly upset Bronte as she never knew her parents. However with their deaths and the reading of their will, comes instructions that Bronte is to visit her ten other aunts and deliver particular gifts to each of them. So begins Bronte’s extremely, inconvenient adventures. What follows is the amusing tales of Bronte’s aunts and their families. Each aunt has a unique and unusual occupation. Bronte unwittingly learns information about the Whispering Wars, spells, dragons, pirates, elves and water sprites which becomes important in the final chapters. In the climax of the book Bronte rescues her cousin, Billy who was taken captive by pirates. With her other cousins in tow, they are able to defeat the menacing powers of the Whispering King and also rescue her parents, who weren’t dead after all. Something our review had suspected, but a young reader probably wouldn’t. The well-written whimsical story has a very satisfying appeal as so many seemingly unimportant details in the early stages of the book become important in the final resolution. While this is a long book (500 pages), it moves at a good pace with short chapters, and comical illustrations.
Major themes: families, friendships, adventure, fun, magic
Content notes: Language: 'bugger' x 1 (p158)
bookcurator.com.au | 27
Recommended age: 8 to 12 years Suitable class novel: NO Good read rating: %%%%% Literary value rating: %%%%%
Have Sword, Will Travel Author: Garth Nix & Sean Williams ISBN: 978-1742374024 Published: 25/10/2017 Publisher: Allen & Unwin » PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION When Odo and Eleanor stumble upon an ancient sword in a river outside their village, something very unexpected happens... the sword starts to talk! Much to Odo's dismay he discovers that he's awoken a famous enchanted blade called Biter, and thus has instantly become a knight. Eleanor would love to become a knight - but she's not the one with the sword. Unearthing Biter is only the start of their troubles; soon boy, girl and sword must depart on a noble quest to save their kingdom from threats - in both human and dragon form. » OUR REVIEW This adventure has a fairy tale quality with knights on a quest, enchanted swords and real and fake dragons. It all started when Odo, the seventh of the miller's children and Eleanor whose mother was a soldier knighted and killed in battle were fishing for eels. The river running by the village of Lenburch had never been so low. That made it easy for Odo to spot the old sword in the mud. He cut his finger on it and the blood woke the 28 | The Book Curator: February 2018
enchanted sword which identified itself as Hilderbrand Shining Foebiter, knighted him and designated Eleanor his squire. At the sword's insistence they set off to find what or who was blocking the river. The sword, Biter, trains Sir Odo in formal fighting techniques as they follow a map showing the villages by the river. They meet a traveller who has heard rumours of Quenwulf the dragon causing the river problems. Even Biter who has some gaps in his memory has heard of this fearsome beast. He adds 'Dragon slayer' to his titles. At the village of Anfyltarn they ride the people of an oppressive smithy, Master Fyrennian who used a magic firestarter to make the special knives for the Urthkin, short, demihuman who live underground. This earns them some armour. They travel on doing good deeds such as finding Young Jeffrey at Scombylt and settling a dispute over chickens at Horadle. They meet refugees fleeing from the North and telling tales of great clouds of smoke and steam obviously from a dragon. At Spedigan they hear about the magnificent and beautiful Sir Saskin, a knight from far-off lands camped nearby and gathering supplies before heading north to slay the dragon. Odo and Eleanor find the knight's entourage set up and feasting under a big red tent on the green at Hryding. Mannix, her squire, takes them to Sir Saskia who challenges Sir Odo to a fight. Odo is intimidated. Eleanor is awestruck. She wants to be like Sir Saskia. Odo is defeated. Eleanor sneaks off with plans to join Sir Saskia but she overhears a conversation that reveals the knight is a common thief who sends her men to attack villages and then comes in and pretends to drive them off. She then extracts homage from the grateful people.
Eleanor returns to Odo and they send messages to warn other villagers. In the Old Forest they are rescued from a fire-eating bannoch by Wenneth, an elderly blind monk, who lives in a nearby chapel. There Eleanor finds a sister sword to Biter made at the same forge. Eventually in the hills they find the river has been walled. Sitting on the dam wall is a mechanical dragon, blowing smoke and steam. The old man who keeps it going tells them it was built by Captain Vileheart aka Sir Saskia. The wall is burnt and a wave of water pours down the almost dry river bed taking the three downriver on a raft. Sir Saskia and her troupe are defeated with the help of the dragon Quenwulf who is woken by the fire and comes to dispense judgment. She officially knights both Odo and Eleanor and they head home to await their next adventure. When their village is attacked by a bilewolf it looks like the next chapter may just have found them ... This is an action-packed adventure with likable characters including a number of strong females as both goodies and baddies.
Major themes: adventure, quests, knightly code, justice, friendship, commitment
Content notes: Enchanted swords, the dragon as a great and terrible judge (p282-283)
Recommended age: 9 to 12 years Suitable class novel: NO Good read rating: %%%%% Literary value rating: %%%%%
» OUR REVIEW
Do You Speak Chocolate? Author: Cas Lester ISBN: 978-1471405037 Published: 25/10/2017 Publisher: Bonnier » PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION Jaz is outgoing, rebellious, gumptious and a little bit bolshy - but it doesn't stop her from finding it hard that she doesn't have a best friend at school any more. Not since Lily went off with Kara ... She's not one to get down about things, though and things start to look up when Nadima comes into their classroom. Before long the girls are firm friends, even though Nadima, recently arrived from Syria, can't speak much English. The path of true friendship doesn't run smooth, though ... Jaz, ever the entrepreneur, cooks up a plan to sell Turkish Delight at school, with disastrous results. A drama project with Nadima about family history proves impossible to manage. And Charity Challenge Week puts the icing on the cake as Jaz puts every foot wrong possible. Can she find a way to put things right, and restore the wonderful and unique friendship that she has with Nadima? In a story of friendship, family and entrepreneurial wizardry, Cas Lester deftly navigates the trials and tribulations of girlhood, and examines with the lightest of touches and gentle humour the thorny and compelling issues of integration, belonging and identity.
Jaz Watson (grade 7) has some friend trouble, mainly because she doesn’t have any right now. But when Syrian refugee Nadima arrives at school, she has some hope of a new friend. There’s just one hitch - Nadima can’t speak a word of English. After trying a few ways to communicate, including use of emoji language, Jaz has a brain wave and offers Nadima some chocolate – a language that crosses all cultural barriers! Nadima’s family owned a sweet shop in Syria before escaping the war and soon Jaz is introduced to the joys of Turkish Delight. Jaz is quite entrepreneurial and is often coming up with business ideas. At times her ideas lead to trouble at school for not following the rules. That’s often the cause of Jaz being left out in the cold by her friendship group. Jaz’s business ideas soon get Nadima into trouble and the two girls work together on a well-intentioned school project which backfires... An enjoyable read with a good lesson in friendship, particularly relevant to girls in the Grade 6-8 bracket. The author explores what it means to be a good friend, despite our different backgrounds and how to be get along with a person you don’t particularly like, which can lead to appreciating new qualities in that person.
Major themes: friendship, ethnic/ cultural differences, school-life, refugees, fundraising, dyslexia, entrepreneurial ideas Content notes: 1. Jaz is dyslexic and has always struggled, leading to a strong dislike of school and teachers generally, plus a sarcastic streak that is obvious throughout the book. At times Jaz calls people ‘Dorkbrain’ and refers to teachers as ‘stupid’ and ‘idiot’. 2. The text describes Nadima’s family’s escape from Syria, complete with bombs, guns, screaming, crying and buildings falling down. Many of
Nadima’s extended family have died in conflict.
Recommended age: 9 to 13 years Suitable class novel: NO Good read rating: %%%% Literary value rating: %%%%
Pax Author: Sara Pennypacker ISBN: 978-0008158286 Published: 01/04/2016 Publisher: Harper Collins » PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION Pax was only a kit when his family was killed and he was rescued by 'his boy', Peter. Now the country is at war and when his father enlists, Peter has no choice but to move in with his grandfather. Far worse than leaving home is the fact that he has to leave Pax behind. But before Peter spends even one night under his grandfather's roof he sneaks out into the night, determined to find his beloved friend. This is the story of Peter, Pax, and their journeys back to each other as war rampages throughout the country. A moving story of the extraordinary friendship between a boy and his fox, and their epic journey to be reunited. Beautifully illustrated by multi-award winner, Jon Klassen. » OUR REVIEW Pax is a well crafted story that allows resolution and healing to happen through a chain of carefully constructed events. A fox handreared by humans and a young
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boy are the focus of this story of friendship and separation. When both are forced apart through the onset of war and the actions of the boy’s unfeeling father, most of the story becomes about the insatiable need to reunite the boy Peter and his pet fox Pax. Whilst Peter’s adventure to find Pax involves physical danger, it is also a journey of emotional healing. He is forced to deal with his grief over the sudden loss of his mother years earlier and his poor relationship with his angry father, which he does via an unusual friendship with Vola; a recluse of sorts. The book’s ever-present backdrop of impending war heightens the tension. The narrator alternates between Peter and Pax, which amongst other things helps the reader gain an appreciation of the habits of foxes in the wild. Pax’s chapters provide readers with various descriptions of a fox’s acute sense of smell and his uncanny ability to detect human emotions and of things that are unsafe. The personal restoration of traumatic pasts is the key feature and theme of the novel and one that leaves the reader with the realisation that with perseverance one can overcome any calamity.
Major themes: grief and loss, healing and restoration, abuse/ anger by a father, friendship, PTSD, environmental/wildlife effects of war, foxes, friendship
Content notes: Not applicable
Recommended age: 10 to 14 years Suitable class novel: YES Good read rating: %%%%% Literary value rating: %%%%%
an incongruously thoughtful fox will have readers thinking about the authenticities of friendships and relationships with persons of difference.
Dog Author: Andy Mulligan ISBN: 978-1782691716 Published: 22/11/2017 Publisher: Faber » PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION When Tom gets a puppy he calls Spider, it changes both their lives. Tom finally has a special friend all of his own - which is just what he needs as he struggles with a difficult new school and trouble at home. And Spider has someone to love him. But the course of their love does not run entirely smoothly, as they embark on a gruelling journey of separation and reunion.
Major themes: friendship, lies and deception, rejection, difference, bullying, blame and forgiveness, family restoration of relationships, dog/human relationship
Content notes: Not applicable.
Recommended age: 10 to 14 years Suitable class novel: YES Good read rating: %%%%% Literary value rating: %%%%%
Dog is a book about trust, standing up for yourself, and learning to love. By the award-winning Andy Mulligan, author of the bestselling Trash, it is a story that will delight readers young and old. » OUR REVIEW This is a charming book that gives a very fascinating perspective on the life of certain animals. Predominantly written from the point of view of a newly owned but previously unwanted dog called Spider, the book makes for a dramatic plot that involves Spider’s interactions with a host of other animals such as a cat, a fox, a house spider and even a flea. The ways that each of these unique creatures thinks and behaves complements their suitably quirky personalities. Andy Mulligan’s representation of the deceitful and pompous nature of a suburban cat alongside an insensitive spider and
30 | The Book Curator: February 2018
In the animal world, the survival of the fittest is paramount and can be seen in many forms in this book, especially where mere survival will be at the expense of the weakest creature. Dog is an original concept and extremely touching as a troubled boy’s life, and his family, are restored through his relationship with his beloved dog.
Twenty-Five Memories of Viggo MacDuff Author: Kate Gordon ISBN: 978-1925652291 Published: 30/11/2017 Publisher: Other » PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION It’s Christmas Day, but Connie Chase isn’t eating turkey with family and friends. She’s in her bedroom, alone, with an empty advent calendar. Every door she
opens is a memory of the boy she loved and lost, the most perfect boy there ever was.But Connie’s best friend, Jed – the best friend she neglected for the year she was in love – has plans to help Connie repair her broken heart. Will Jed’s kooky form of therapy, his epic quest for adventure, or his ability to find the best takeaway food in Bangarra be able to exorcise Connie of her memories of the most perfect man in the universe? Or, as she relives every memory of Viggo MacDuff, will she finally see he was maybe not so perfect after all?
family, unhealthy relationships, manipulation
Content notes: 1. Language: shit x 4, motherfu ... (the word is left incomplete) x 2 (p153). 2.Viggo's treatment of Connie is probably portrayed a little unrealistically in just how manipulative he was but it gets the point across. He treats her badly afterwards, by shunning her and telling her she is pathetic when she apparently no longer becomes of use to him. 3. There is no sexual content - only kissing. 4. Connie is given 2 birthday beers on her 17th birthday party by her father.
» OUR REVIEW Connie Chase is an average teen geek, she knows all her pop culture lingo, lives and breathes 90s music and Doctor Who and met her best friend Jed at her 5th grade Pokemon party. Connie isn't very sure of herself and when Jed introduces her to his other best friend, Viggo MacDuff, just before her 16th birthday, she falls hard. A year later, two days after her 17th birthday, Viggo dumps her. In order to process what happened, Connie breaks down their relationship with 25 memories using a 25 chocolate advent calendar and then shares her experiences with Jed. Their friendship almost faded away during her year of ‘loving Viggo’ as Viggo was all she could think about. Through humorous conversations, Jed encourages the return of the real Connie, who starts to realise that somewhere during the past year she lost herself. Viggo was a master at manipulating her into being the girl – and girlfriend - he thought she should be. A clean, enjoyable story that will remind teens that ‘love’ is not always what it seems to be and that it is important to be valued and loved just as you are.
Major themes: romance, toxic people, having to change to conform, being yourself, friendship,
Recommended age: 13 years + Suitable class novel: NO Good read rating: %%%%% Literary value rating: %%%%
Esme's Wish Author: Elizabeth Foster ISBN: 978-1925652246 Published: 30/11/2017 Publisher: Other » PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION When 15-year-old Esme Silver objects at her father’s wedding, her protest is dismissed as the actions of a stubborn, selfish teenager. Everyone else has accepted the loss of Esme’s mother – so why can’t she? But Esme is suspicious. She is sure that others are covering up the real reason for her mother’s disappearance – that ‘lost at sea’ is code for something more terrible, something she has a right to know.
After Esme is accidentally swept into the enchanted world of Aeolia, the truth begins to unfold. With her newfound friends, Daniel and Lillian, Esme retraces her mother’s steps in the glittering canal city of Esperance, untangling the threads of Ariane’s double life. But the more Esme discovers about Ariane, the more she questions whether she really knew her at all. » OUR REVIEW Esme is a 15-year-old girl whose father is getting remarried, much to her dismay. Her mother, Ariane, went missing seven years ago. Esme is in denial, does not like her new step-mother to be and as soon as her father goes on the honeymoon plans to do everything she can to try and solve the mystery of her mother’s disappearance. While Esme is looking for clues, she falls through a portal to the parallel world of Esperance, the magical land her mother had told her so much about. Everyone (including Esme’s father) thought the stories were the ravings of a mentally ill woman. Esme had never been sure what to think … until now. The first people she meets are Daniel and Lillian, two teens around the same age as her. They give her a proper introduction to the world of Esperance, a vividly depicted Venice-like fantasy land filled with wonder and dragons. Esme’s is determined to find her mother, and her friends are willing to help her, but ultimately there is far more at stake than she realizes – the fate of Esperance itself may hang in the balance … This is a very enjoyable, easy to read fantasy suitable for middle fiction readers through to high school. It has valuable themes including loyalty, love, determination and courage. A great book from a debut Australian author.
Major themes: friendship, family, devotion, protection, solving a bookcurator.com.au | 31
mystery, relationships, teenagers understanding their value
Content notes: The majority of the story is set in a parallel world with magical elements, dragons etc. There is a scene in Esperance where Esme comes face to face with a ghostly painter (not scary) and Daniel makes a joke about having a friend who was a ghost (p118-120). Esme fights a wraith (Princess Anna the original keeper of the Pearl of Esperance, but she succumbed to the lure of the pearl and lost herself in the process). To save her mother’s life, Esme stabs her with the knife the wraith was going to use against her, setting Anna free. (chapter 32). There is no other violence and no language.
Recommended age: 13 years + Suitable class novel: YES Good read rating: %%%% Literary value rating: %%%%
Australia's Great War: 1918 Author: Libby Gleeson ISBN: 978-1743622513 Published: 01/02/2018 Publisher: Omnibus » PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION The planes kept flying low above them. They were dropping bombs and the noise drowned out all other sounds. After an hour the signal rang out and they surged forward through the smoke. Thousands of men screaming and yelling, their line was kilometres wide. Behind 32 | The Book Curator: February 2018
them came Monash's tanks, those huge, new mobile machines. They smothered the land they ran over; flattening the crops and then any wire left standing. With Russia out of the war, the Germans have sent all the troops to the Western Front. Almost defeated, a small group of Australians fight to hold the enemy back at Villers Brettonneux. Weary after years of fighting and deadlock, Ned and his mates know that the war will be lost if they can't turn the tide. More and more, Ned's thoughts turn to home, not knowing if he will ever see his family, or his brother, again. » OUR REVIEW It’s been over 18 months since Ned and his mates were recruited during the famous Coo-ee Recruitment March. There were 26 of them when they left Gilgandra, and 262 by the time they reached Martin Place in Sydney, some 300 miles away. By now many of those men have fallen in battle. In between fighting the enemy, the friends meet some Aussie nurses. Ned is particularly drawn to Doreen and they start corresponding. Their letters are interspersed throughout the text, as are those between Ned and his family back home. After all he’s seen and experienced, Ned is not the same boy he was when he signed up, but he’s still sure he could never be as brave as his mate Les or any of the other soldiers. His brother Jim was crippled in an accident when they were kids and Ned has considered himself a coward ever since for not stopping the boy. However when Jim takes a direct hit it is Ned who risks his own life to save him and he’s injured in the process. They are both sent to the hospital where Doreen and Evie are working, and after surgery Ned is soon shipped off to a rehabilitation hospital in England. Les, who has a shattered shoulder, later follows him. They are still in
England when the armistice is announced, and when Ned realises he will soon be going home he also realises that he wants Doreen to go with him … This is a very well written, evocative and engaging story of young Australian soldiers during the last year of World War 1. It also highlights the affection and respect they had for Lieutenant General Monash (who became Sir John Monash before the end of the war).
Major themes: World War I, Villers-Bretonneux, friendship, grief, loss, politics, recruitment, conscription, courage, PTSD, injuries, loss of life, Monash
Content notes: 1. Language: 'bastard' x 5, 'Christ' x 1 (p13), 'bloody' x 7, 'shit' x 1. 2. Mild to moderate war-related graphic violence.
Recommended age: 13 years + Suitable class novel: YES Good read rating: %%%% Literary value rating: %%%%
Love, Hate & Other Filters Author: Samira Ahmed ISBN: 978-1471407147 Published: 24/01/2018 Publisher: Bonnier » PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION Maya Aziz dreams of being a film maker in New York. Her family have other ideas. They want her to be a dutiful daughter who wears
gold jewellery and high heels and trains to be a doctor. But jewellery and heels are so uncomfortable ... She's also caught between the guy she SHOULD like and the guy she DOES like. But she doesn't want to let Kareem down and things with Phil would never work out anyway. Would they? Then a suicide bomber who shares her last name strikes in a city hundreds of miles away and everything changes ...
Kamal Aziz actually had nothing to do with it, he was only at the Federal Building to attend a citizenship ceremony.
» OUR REVIEW
Major themes: Indian/American
This story explores the challenges faced by the children of immigrants who often feel torn between their new land and culture and their parents expectations. Maya Aziz is an Indian Muslim girl in her last year at school. She has a passion for films – both watching and making them – and views the world through the lens of her camera. Her parents, both dentists, want her to attend a nearby university and become a lawyer but Maya has applied to study film at the New York University and been accepted. She is reluctant to break this news to her parents. Then there is the boy situation. Maya's parents who aren't very devout Muslims, are very keen on Kareem, a very suitable Indian Muslim boy. However, Maya is in love with Phil. Then a suicide bomber blows up the Federal Building in the nearby town of Springfield. This is a suspected terrorist attack by Kamal Aziz, an Egyptian Muslim. As they share the same last name, Maya and her parents are targeted in the backlash against Muslims. With the help of her aunt, Maya had persuaded her parents to let her study at NYU. Driven by fear after the attack, her parents withdraw their permission. Maya is bullied at school and runs away from home to give herself some thinking space. Eventually the police discover a white supremacist with a troubled past is responsible for the attack.
Maya navigates her complicated family life and even more complicated romantic life in this coming of age story that explores cultural differences, the experience of immigrant children and what happens when people jump to conclusions. culture clash, immigrants children, immigration, prejudice, parent/ child clash, young love, impact of terrorist attack, bullying, friendship, asserting independence
Content notes: Language: f**k x 2 (p152, 163), Jesus x 1 (p222).
Recommended age: 14+ years Suitable class novel: NO Good read rating: %%%% Literary value rating: %%%%
To save her newfound home, she must embark on a journey with her friends to unite the races of Medora against the rising threat of rebel Prince Aven Dalmarta. From the humans of Tryllin, to the Jarnocks of the treetop city Maroo and the Flips of the Undersea Islands, Alex appeals to foreign leaders for help in saving the whole of Medora. Because if the prince follows through on his promise to purge the land of mortals, everyone's days are numbered. Proving the most difficult to convince, however, are the Shadow Walkers, a mysterious and darkcloaked people with grey skin who travel via shadows. They reside in Graevale, a monochromatic city that is both day and night, stormy and pleasant. In an effort to warn them of the wars to come, Alex undergoes a dangerous testing that risks not only her life, but also all of those in Medora. In the novel's climax, armies collide in Graevale as Aven mounts his attack on Alex and the city. Alex learns confronting truths about life, love, trust and sacrifice. This is the fourth book in the best-selling Medoran Chronicles series. » OUR REVIEW
Graevale: The Medoran Chronicles # 4 Author: Lynette Noni ISBN: 978-1921997945 Published: 01/02/2018 Publisher: Bloomsbury » PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION In her third year at Akarnae Academy for the gifted, Alexandra Jennings knows - now more than ever - that there is danger looming over the school campus and beyond.
Alex Jennings has returned from the past where she learnt what has been causing changes in those around her. The rebel prince Aven had turned evil and captured Meya and ‘Claimed’ (taken over their will) most of the Meyarins, who are immortal. Some escaped and are hiding in Draekora (islands in the sky above Meya) including Roka, the Meya prince now under a sleeping spell. Alex was able to unClaim Jordan, a friend who is in love with DC, the Medoran princess. With Bear, they are all students at the Akarnae Academy. While in the past, Alex saw the destruction and wars Aven plans to wreak on the Medora in the
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future. Alex tries to warn King Auriliaus and Queen Osmoda, but her news isn't taken seriously.
police station, Annie feels obliged to help hide his whereabouts from the police.
The Medoran rulers forbade Alex from approaching any other races with warnings, but she knows she must go anyway. Her friends at the Academy help take her message to the different races, each having various adventures en route.
Then she meets Jack, a new boy in town whose father is in charge of the investigation.
Through all this Alex has a slowburn romance with Kaiden James. When Alex returns to Draekar she's betrayed and is imprisoned by Aven, however Niyx helps her escape. By then Aven has marshalled his forces and attacked Graevale. Niyx dies protecting Alex. Although he's winning, Aven withdraws, telling the nations around him that was only a taste of what is to come. Alex refuses to kill Aven before the people he has Claimed are set free, otherwise they will die with him. Alex puts her trust in an ancient prophecy that talks about Day and Night and Dark and Light. Alex thought this referred to Graevale but Athora explains that Medora means Night and another unvisited land, Tia Auras translates as Day. Alex and Kaiden set out for Tia Auras. A good read of the fantasy series genre involving a number of people groups and a large cast of characters. This is the fourth book in this enjoyable series.
Major themes: Light and Dark, impending war, different races, warnings, perseverance, young love, friendship, dealing with authority figures, skill-building
Content notes: 1. Aven is able to take over the will of others and bond them to him. 2. ‘bugger’ x 1 (p26).
Recommended age: 13 to 17 years Suitable class novel: NO Good read rating: %%%% Literary value rating: %%%%
34 | The Book Curator: February 2018
Rain Fall Author: Ella West ISBN: 978-1760296834 Published: 02/01/2018 Publisher: Allen & Unwin » PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION I'm not running late like I usually am. Maybe that's why I look in the river, maybe that's why I stop when I see it. A dark-coloured raincoat, the arms spread wide, floating, hood-first down the river. And then it starts to rain. Fifteen-year-old Annie needs to get to her basketball match, but the police have cordoned off her road. Is her neighbour, who she grew up with, still alive? What has he done to have the police after him? A murder investigation brings new people to Annie's wild West Coast town, including a dark-haired boy riding the most amazing horse she has ever seen. But Annie is wary of strangers, especially as her world is beginning to crumble around her. In setting out to discover the truth Annie uncovers secrets that could rip the small community apart. » OUR REVIEW It's raining as it always seems to be in Westport, a dying coal town on New Zealand's West Coast. With the much needed advent of clean energy comes the resultant loss of jobs for the mine workers and the subsequent social impact unemployment brings. When 17-year-old Annie’s neighbour Pete is accused of shooting up the
Seventeen-year-old Jack rides the rodeo circuit but has busted his shoulder. Annie and Jack start a secret romance. Helping Pete backfires when both Annie and Jack are caught up in his plan to take revenge on the bank robbers for killing his mate Ben. The robbers wanted to exploit his explosives expertise, gained in the mines. The three of them are captured by the robbers and when Jack and Annie take an opportunity to escape, Annie is shot. With Pete and Jack’s help she is taken to Christchurch Hospital by helicopter and ultimately the bad guys get their just deserts. A great tale of action and adventure set against the current downturn in the coal mining industry.
Major themes: coal town, unemployment, rain, young love, horses, rodeo cowboys, crime investigation, robbery gone wrong
Content notes: 1. pissed off x 2, shit x 1. 2. ‘I [Pete] smoke a bit of weed’ (p191). 3. Non graphic violence, eg. Ben is killed by the robbers and his body found floating in the river. Pete plans to kill them in return (but doesn’t). The robbers shoot Annie as she tries to escape.
Recommended age: 12 to 15 years Suitable class novel: NO Good read rating: %%%%% Literary value rating: %%%%
Indigo Blue Author: Jessica Watson ISBN: 978-0734418135 Published: 01/01/2018 Publisher: Lothian » PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION Alex feels like a fish out of water in her new hometown - the sleepy little lakeside village of Boreen Point where she is reluctantly sent to live with her slightly eccentric aunt for her final year of high school. None of Alex's classmates could care less about the new girl, so Alex couldn't care less about them ... or so she tries to tell herself. As a distraction from what is quickly shaping up to be a very lonely year, Alex spends her savings on a rundown little yacht and throws herself into restoring it. An offer to help a shy classmate with a history assignment leads to a curious discovery and the beginnings of a friendship, but it's Sam - the sailmaker's apprentice - and his mysterious ways that really capture Alex's attention ... » OUR REVIEW Alex has gone to live with her quirky aunt while her father is working on a cancer research team in America. Alex's mother died of cancer when she was only young. Most 17-year-olds are interested in owning a car, but all Alex can think about is buying a boat. Alex eventually finds one that is within budget, albeit a bit knocked around and names it Indigo Blue. She enlists help from the local sailmaker to help her fix it up. She
gets more than she bargained for when his apprentice Sam offers to help. Their friendship is developing nicely when Sam withdraws, leaving Alex confused. In the meantime, Alex has made a few friends at her new school and is paired with Sophie to work on a history project. They come across a very damaged, very old book and are able to piece together from its remains the story of Eliza, a local school teacher from long ago. There are mentions of a romance between her a young man called Jack and a mystery surrounding what happened to her. Alex notices similarities between Eliza’s purported romance and what had been her burgeoning friendship with Sam. When Sam completely cuts her off she goes looking for him on a nearby island. She sees him dive into the water but he looks different than the Sam she knows … It turns out Sam is a merman, and according to his culture he must not love a human. Alex sets out to prove that Eliza and Jack (the couple in the old book) were in the same predicament, but were able to marry and have children. Perhaps there is hope for Alex and Sam after all … This is a very easy, enjoyable and clean read for teens. While at its heart this book is a romance, it includes a lot of information about sailing, what it is like to be a new student in Year 12, the challenges of making new friends and living with relatives.
Major themes: sailing, living with relatives, new school, history, Year 12, mystery, romance, friendship, myths and legends, mermen
Content notes: Not applicable.
Recommended age: 12 to 17 years Suitable class novel: NO Good read rating: %%%% Literary value rating: %%%%
Wolf Children Author: Paul Dowswell ISBN: 978-1408858516 Published: 01/11/2017 Publisher: Bloomsbury » PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION It is July 1945, Hitler's Third Reich has fallen, and Berlin is in ruins. Living on the edge of survival in the cellar of an abandoned hospital, Otto and his ragtag gang of kids have banded together in the desperate, bombed-out city. The war may be over, but danger lurks in the shadows of the wreckage as Otto and his friends find themselves caught between invading armies, ruthless rival gangs and a strange Nazi war criminal who stalks them ... » OUR REVIEW Author Paul Dowswell writes with an impressive historical knowledge about the aftermath of the takeover of Berlin at the end of World War II. The main characters are a group of teenagers who are very much on their own after the loss of their parents during the invasion of their home. Their primary quest is survival as they face the constant threat of starvation and malnutrition in a war-ravaged city that’s depleted of basic human needs. Living in a highly volatile environment, the group still live in a dangerous war zone occupied by the Russian Red Army and now the liberating forces of the Americans and British of whom they are yet to trust.
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Wolf Children is written subtly. Rather than describing macabre events it is left to the reader to make obvious assumptions about the tragedy of what happened. Elements of fear and danger have been created to evoke an ominous feeling that the teenagers could be shot and killed at any given moment. The Nazi ideology of the Hitler Youth is a key feature of the book and gives readers a perspective of the disillusionment to which its members ascribed. Moral dilemmas facing the group are deliberated as they face life and death situations constantly. An enjoyable historical novel that will give readers an appreciation of the harrowing trials faced by abandoned children who are just trying to survive.
Major themes: Survival and resourcefulness, Nazi ideology, bullying/gangs, moral dilemmas.
Content notes: Some instances of bullying and verbal insults (name calling); insinuations of killings and torture; references to bombs and weapons but nothing graphic.
Recommended age: 13 years + Suitable class novel: YES Good read rating: %%%% Literary value rating: %%%%%
Buy 15+ copies of any title and SAVE 20% off RRP. 36 | The Book Curator: February 2018
is very upset to discover the ‘new boyfriend’ is actually her father.
The Start of Me and You Author: Emery Lord ISBN: 978-1408888377 Published: 01/11/2017 Publisher: Bloomsbury » PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic highschool dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it 's never too late for second chances. It's been a year since it happened when Paige Hancock's first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school. ... and she has a plan. First- Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her - the perfect way to convince everyone she 's back to normal. Next- Join a club - simple, it 's high school after all. But when Ryan 's sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live? » OUR REVIEW The main character of this story is Paige, the ‘Girl whose Boyfriend Drowned’. Her relationship with Aaron was in its early months when the tragedy occurred and as you’d expect, it impacted her significantly. Her parents divorced after years of tension and fighting. When her mum starts seeing someone, Paige
Her Grammy encourages her to step out and start living again. So Paige makes a list headed: How to Begin Again. 1. Parties/social events, 2. New group, 3. Date, 4. Travel, 5. Swim. The story is about that list and how it is accomplished. Paige manages a party. She sits next to Max at school. His friend Ryan is someone Paige wouldn't mind getting to know better. He's just been dropped by his long-time girlfriend. Their teacher encourages Paige to join the Quiz Bowl group which competes with other schools in quiz competitions. Max is in the same group. Paige is accepted into a TV screen writing program in New York. She is accepted into it. Her interest in TV programs is a strength on the quiz team. The story rolls on with her friends' romances and break-ups, misunderstandings with Max and the final realisation she loves him coming on the day he leaves for Italy. There's her acceptance of her parents' relationship, her Grammy's death, conquering her fear of swimming and getting to know more about Aaron by celebrating his life with his friends. It's a busy but sound read featuring the many layers of relationships that make up life.
Major themes: grief, fear, friendship, new beginnings, family, young love, school life, change.
Content notes: 1. playing spin the bottle at party - nothing really passionate happens (p248-255). 2. Language: shit x 2, pissed me off x 1. 3. Ryan pursues Tessa who later enters a same sex relationship (only mentioned in emails).
Recommended age: 13 years + Suitable class novel: NO Good read rating: %%%% Literary value rating: %%%%%
they were known and didn't have to continually deal with comments and stares of strangers. Their mother poured her life into them through their early years, wanting them to be as well as possible and feeling uneasy about her decision not to separate them.
Gemini Author: Sonya Mukherjee ISBN: 978-1481456784 Published: 01/10/2017 Publisher: Simon & Schuster » PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION In this “thought-provoking and engaging” (School Library Journal) debut novel, Sonya Mukherjee shares the story of sisters Clara and Hailey, conjoined twins who are learning what it means to be truly extraordinary. Seventeen-year-old conjoined twins, Clara and Hailey, have lived in the same small town their entire lives— no one stares at them anymore. But there are cracks in their quiet existence and they’re slowly becoming more apparent. Clara and Hailey are at a crossroads. Clara wants to stay close to home, avoid all attention, and study the night sky. Hailey wants to travel the world, learn from great artists, and dance with mysterious boys. As graduation approaches, each twin must untangle her dreams from her sister’s, and figure out what it means to be her own person. Told in alternating perspectives, this unconventional coming-of-age tale shows how dreams can break your heart—but the love between sisters can mend it. » OUR REVIEW Seventeen-year-old conjoined twins Clara and Hailey live with their parents in the small town of Bear Pass. Her parents chose a small town so the girls could grown up in a close-knit community where
As the girls are looking at colleges, they realise the small local one where their parents teach restricts what each of them wants to do.
Content notes: Language: shit x 1, pissed you off x 1, bitch x 2, Jesus x 3 (p209, 275, 292).
Recommended age: 13 years + Suitable class novel: NO Good read rating: %%%% Literary value rating: %%%%
Hilary wants to study Art and Clara's interest is in astronomy. There is also the upcoming school dance - one where girls issue the invitation. Clara is attracted to Max, a new boy at the school while Hilary is drawn to Alek, a fellow artist who paints sadness. Alek paints a picture of Hilary separated from Clara with lots of blood. Clara overhears Max being called a pervert for liking her. Both these events cause friction. The situation also causes the girls to discuss separation surgery. Max begins to see Lindsey, one of a group of girls who embarrassed Hilary and Clara on the toilet when they were 11 years. She apologised later. The twins have more conflict with their mother as they want to move away to attend college and date boys. Clara, more reserved, moves towards acceptance of their situation. After confrontation, they forgive Lindsay and her group and realise their own resentment of past slights makes them more at fault than those they see as their enemies. This freedom and growing confidence in who they are puts them in a better place to dance into their futures. A book about relationships and growing up, in particularly challenging circumstances.
Major themes: conjoined twins, growing up, letting go, decisionmaking, forgiveness, accepting who you are.
Unearthed Author: Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner ISBN: 978-1760292157 Published: 22/11/2017 Publisher: Allen & Unwin » PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION We are the last of our kind. We will not fade into the dark. We will tell our story to the stars - we will be Undying. When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution the planet has been waiting for. The Undying's advanced technology has the potential to undo massive environmental damage and turn lives around, and Gaia, the Undying's former home planet, is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered. For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study... as long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don't loot everything first. Despite their opposing reasons for smuggling themselves onto the alien planet's surface, they're both desperate to uncover the riches hidden in the Undying temples. Beset by rival scavenger gangs, bookcurator.com.au | 37
Jules and Amelia form a fragile alliance... but both are keeping secrets that make trust nearly impossible. As they race to decode the ancient messages left by the alien race, Jules and Amelia must navigate the traps and trials within the Undying temple and stay one step ahead of the scavvers on their heels. They came to Gaia certain that they had far more to fear from their fellow humans than the ancient beings whose mysteries they're trying to unravel. But the more they learn about the Undying, the more Jules and Amelia start to feel like their presence in the temple is part of a grand design - one that could spell the end of the human race... » OUR REVIEW This engaging science fiction novel depicts humans from Earth seeking advanced technology from a longextinct alien race on the planet Gaia, so they can use it to counteract the environmental disaster that has occurred on Earth. The countries of Earth have formed an International Alliance to control access to Gaia and retrieve the tech. However, not everyone believes this will be a good thing. The two main characters, Jules and Amelia (Mia), independently arrange to be smuggled on board a spaceship, but both have very different reasons for wanting to go to Gaia. Jules and Mia meet soon after arriving on Gaia and although each has their own secret motives for being there they connect and join forces. The aliens have left clues to guide the characters to one of their spacecrafts. There is, however, a hidden message within the puzzle where someone is warning them that there is danger ahead. The further they go into the temple the more they discover that this warning has merit. The story is told from the points of view of both protagonists in alternate chapters. Having access
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to the thought processes of both characters adds depth to the story. The reader can understand where Mia or Jules are misjudging each other’s actions and motivations. Both of them have issues with trust, which is tested many times because neither of them is always telling the truth. The actions become more intense towards the end of the novel. Information they uncover makes it clear that they must stop this spacecraft from launching. It does launch but with a major surprise happening that leaves a real cliffhanger ending to the story (ready for the sequel). The language of the novel includes ideas based on mathematics, linguistics as well as archaeology. These are necessary to solve the puzzles set for them in the temple. The writing is engaging with clever dialogue and the world building is well crafted. A great read for ages 12 and over.
Major themes: trust, archaeology, science fiction, environmental damage, maths, alliances, greed, puzzles, linguistics, humanity, adventure, technology, choices, space travel, colonisation, climate change, slavery, romance, scavengers,
Content notes: 1. Language: shit x 16, ‘fricking/freaking’ x 2, bloody x 2, pissed x 1, screwed x 2. 2. Kissing (p198, 311).
Recommended age: 12 years + Suitable class novel: NO Good read rating: %%%% Literary value rating: %%%%
Scythe Author: Neal Shusterman ISBN: 978-1406379242 Published: 01/02/2018 Publisher: Walker Books » PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION A dark, gripping and witty thriller in which the only thing humanity has control over is death. In a world where disease, war and crime have been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed ('gleaned') by professional scythes. Citra and Rowan are teens who have been selected to be scythes' apprentices, and despite wanting nothing to do with the vocation, they must learn the art of killing and understand the necessity of what they do. Only one of them will be chosen as a scythe's apprentice and as Citra and Rowan come up against a terrifyingly corrupt Scythedom, it becomes clear that the winning apprentice's first task will be to glean the loser. » OUR REVIEW In a world where disease has been defeated and people no longer die naturally, the scythes are seen as the answer. They glean lives methodically, for the betterment of society, which cannot continue to grow without a thinning out of those already in existence, especially as it’s the norm to live for hundreds of years. Their ‘random’ choices are directed by accident and other statistics from the Age of Mortality and must be within accepted parameters to
ensure the world is kept free from cultural and genetic bias. The scythes are respected and also feared. But when Citra and Rowan come across Scythe Faraday – in totally different circumstances – neither reacts the way he expects. He offers both an apprenticeship, but there is only one position available. Citra is horrified at the ‘opportunity’, but her parents have a different reaction. Scythes never want for anything, and if she was to become one, her family would be immune from gleaning for as long as she is alive. Rowan doesn’t want to take lives, but he knows that he is more empathetic than many other people. There may be a higher role he can play than just that of a heartless taker of life. There is an order to being a scythe, and the last person who should be a scythe is one who takes a life lightly. It is an honourable role, that requires adherence to the highest moral and ethical standards. At times people resist, so a scythe must also be able to fight. The Scythedom is the only selfgoverning body in the world. Everything else is governed by the Thunderhead (artificial intelligence). A conclave is held three times a year, at which any disputes are resolved, policies are reviewed, and there is a mourning for the lives taken. Although power plays and politics have disappeared from the rest of life, they are alive and well in the Scythedom. When a fellow scythe objects to Faraday’s double apprenticeship, a new rule is implemented – the winner must glean the loser. To save them, Faraday purportedly gleans himself, with the intent of releasing them from their apprenticeship. But there is to be no release. Instead Citra is apprenticed to Scythe Curie, whose very much like Faraday in her respect for the role of scythe and for the lives taken. In stark contrast, Rowan is apprenticed
to Scythe Goddard, who sees his position as one to enjoy, to exploit, to build wealth and to kill at will. Goddard wants Rowan to enjoy the killing and does everything he can to twist the boy into a man of his own making. His scheme backfires when Rowan takes the ultimate action to wipe Goddard and his ilk from the earth. Meanwhile Citra has discovered that Faraday is alive. She is determined to work with Scythe Curie to restore integrity to the Scythedom. However the question of whether Rowan can be trusted to work with them rather than against them is one that won’t easily be answered …
In the main, those massacres occur off the page so there is only minor graphical descriptions. Goddard’s actions are juxtaposed starkly with the measured approach of Scythe Curie, who invites the loved ones of those whose lives she gleans to her home, where she prepares them a meal and encourages them to talk of the one they have lost, to process their anger and pain and come to a place of healing.
Recommended age: 15 years + Suitable class novel: YES Good read rating: %%%%% Literary value rating: %%%%%
This incredibly thought provoking story explores many issues of morality and ethics and the bigger questions behind our intrinsic desire for a utopian society no longer plagued by hunger, disease, accidents or aggression. A brilliant book for older readers.
Major themes: science fiction, utopian society, morals, ethics, population control, empathy, choices, artificial intelligence, technology, conscience, quota system, compassion, statistics, guilt, revenge, politics Content notes: 1. Tyger Salazar hurls himself out the 39th story to thrill seek. Revival is compulsory so his parents are continually having to pay the medical bills for his speed healing (Chapter 2). 2. Language: bastards x 1 (p148). 3. Very mild sexual innuendo (p217). 4. For his ‘initiation’ as Goddard’s apprentice, his team turn off Rowan’s pain blocking and healing nanites and beat him to a pulp (p222-224). 5. Instead of carefully gleaning five lives per week to fulfil their quota as other scythes do, Goddard’s scythes will basically massacre a large group of people in a single event, and then spend the rest of their time partying and otherwise enjoying everything money and power can bring them.
The Cruel Prince: The Folk of the Air # 1 Author: Holly Black ISBN: 978-1471407031 Published: 02/01/2018 Publisher: Bonnier » PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION Of course I want to be like them. They're beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever. And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe. One terrible morning, Jude and her sisters see their parents murdered in front of them. The terrifying assassin abducts all three girls to the world of Faerie, where Jude is installed in the royal court but mocked and tormented by the Faerie royalty for being mortal. bookcurator.com.au | 39
As Jude grows older, she realises that she will need to take part in the dangerous deceptions of the fey to ever truly belong. But the stairway to power is fraught with shadows and betrayal. And looming over all is the infuriating, arrogant and charismatic Prince Cardan ... Dramatic and thrilling fantasy blends seamlessly with enthralling storytelling to create a fully realised and seductive world, brimful of magic and romance. » OUR REVIEW This is a story of the intrigue, bloodshed and politics involved in the abdication of an old king and the crowning of a new one. It could have happened in many places and times in history but this one takes place in the world of Faerie and the main kingmaker is a mortal girl named Jude. Jude, her twin sister, Taryn and their older sister, Vivienne who is part Faerie, lived with their human parents in the human world until they were discovered by Vivi's father, Madoc, general to the High King of Faerie. He kills their parents and takes the girls with him to Faerie. Jude and Taryn are six years old. They grow up in the royal court mocked and bullied by the Gentry but are well cared for by Madoc and his wife, Oriana. There is a younger brother, Oak. Jude and Taryn go to school with the princes and princesses. Ten years pass and Jude upsets the youngest son of High King Eldred, Cardan. He and his mates, Locke, Nicasia and Valerian make her life miserable. The Folk are cruel by nature. Jude craves power so she will no longer be at their mercy. Jude joins the spy network of Prince Dain. He's not the oldest brother (Balekin is) but he is favoured to be the next king.
40 | The Book Curator: February 2018
She discovers Cardan (King Eldred’s son) is forced to live with Balekin who belittles and beats him. She begins a relationship with Locke not knowing Locke plans to marry Taryn. Jude develops her skills as a spy. The other members of the Court of Shadows train her. She discovers one of them played a part in the death of Locke's mother. Dain had her killed as she was carrying another possible heir to the throne. It's believed mother and baby died but the baby was safely delivered by Oriana and is really Oak, who is now in line for the crown. On the day the old king stands down and Dain is to be crowned, Balekin challenges for the throne.
Content notes: 1. The magic is faerie magic ie glamouring which changes things or bends other to your will and charms to protect against such magic. 2. Vivi rebels against Madoc and regularly goes back to the human world where she has fallen in love with a human girl, Heather (p58, 62). 3. Language: bitch x 2. 4. There is some sexual tension between Jude and the charming and arrogant Cardan which both hope to exploit. 5. There is alcohol at the faerie parties and one night Jude drinks too much.
Recommended age: 14 years + Suitable class novel: NO Good read rating: %%%%% Literary value rating: %%%%%
Dain is killed as are most other members of the royal family. Only someone in the royal bloodline can crown the king. The only ones left are Balekin, Cardan - and of course, Oak. Jude schemes to make Oak the High King. Madoc is scheming to do the same as he wants to rule as regent in Oak’s place. Jude tricks everyone by having Oak crown Cardan (who doesn't want to be king) in the hope she can control him. Her plan is to have him return the crown to Oak when he is older ... Based on Celtic folklore, this is a great read for those who enjoy a thrill-filled fantasy and characters who don't need to follow the rules and limitations of the human world. It’s an excellent start to a new series, and would make a brilliant movie.
Major themes: power, Faerie world-building, deception, cruelty, leadership change, loyalty, family, intrigue, alliances, Celtic folklore, fantasy, courage, resourcefulness
IMAGE ATTRIBUTIONS PAGE 10 & 11 The Little Prince by Louisela25 Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https:// commons.wikimedia.org/w/ index.php?curid=64253947 NAIDOC week 2011 by DIBP Images www.Flickr.com/photos/diacimages/ 5910802053 Creative Commons license 2.0 Endeavour ship by Samuel Atkins (c. 1760-1810) - National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an5921609, Public Domain, https:// commons.wikimedia.org/w/ index.php?curid=7458795 Original illustration from A Christmas Carol by John Leech - Image taken from A Christmas Carol in prose. Originally published/produced in London: Chapman & Hall, 1843. Held and digitised by the British Library, and uploaded to Flickr Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/ index.php?curid=31452749 World War I Armistice Day march in Brisbane, 1918 Members of the Red Cross volunteers march along the tram lines as people watch on. Item is held by John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland., Public Domain, https:// commons.wikimedia.org/w/
Great websites and apps Safer Internet Day Advice and resources to keep kids safe online, as well as information on how to get involved with SID 2018. saferinternetday.org Library Lovers’ Day Free resources and ideas to help get your students involved in celebrating your library on 14 February. alia.org.au/libraryloversday Kids’ Lit Quiz Australia Get involved in this fantastic international competition. kidslitquiz.com National Film & Sound Archives A wealth of learning resources are available for classroom use. tinyurl.com/y9bf8jg9
Festivals and literary events Adelaide Festival Writers’ Week 3 – 8 March, 2018 Adelaide, SA tinyurl.com/y9kabzel Outspoken Literary Festival 10 March, 2018 Maleny, QLD outspokenmaleny.com
Somerset Celebration of Literature 14 – 16 March, 2018 Gold Coast, QLD tinyurl.com/o6v3tvq
Reading Doctor Workshop March 19, 2018 Adelaide, SA tinyurl.com/y8z54ppz
Dromkeen Lit Fest
PETAA Literacy Teaching Workshop
18 March, 2018 Dromkeen, VIC dromkeen.com.au/litfest
13 March, 2018 Whalan, NSW tinyurl.com/y9mu9pbt
International Read To Me Day
National Future Leaders Conference
19 March, 2018 Online Event readtomeday.com
21 – 22 March, 2018 Melbourne, VIC tinyurl.com/y8s3p8zd
15th Annual Ipswich Poetry Feast
World Literacy Summit
26 March, 2018 Walloon, QLD tinyurl.com/ybqvur46
25 – 27 March, 2018 Oxford, UK worldliteracysummit.org
Mind Brain Education Conference
29 March – 2 April, 2018 Perth, WA swancon.com.au
Conferences and seminars Social Library Showcase 6 March, 2018 Melbourne, VIC tinyurl.com/yb32a5lj SEA Learning Support Conference March 9 – 11, 2018 Yarra Junction, VIC tinyurl.com/y8lxortq
26 – 27 March, 2018 Brisbane, QLD tinyurl.com/y8kes5bh
Quote of the Month The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live. - Ursula K. Le Guin
Do you have a quote, website, conference or other news you’d like to share? Please email email@example.com
bookcurator.com.au | 41
This issues titles in alphabetical order Australia's Great War: 1918
Lionel and the Lion's Share
The Rise of Wolves
Libby Gleeson................................... 32
Lou Peacock....................................... 15
Kerr Thomson.................................... 25
Barney and the Secret of the French Spies
Love, Hate & Other Filters
The Start of Me and You
Jackie French...................................... 21
Samira Ahmed.................................. 32
Emery Lord........................................ 36
Macca the Alpaca
The Wild Robot
Matt Cosgrove................................... 15
Peter Brown....................................... 22
Do You Speak Chocolate?
Parmesan the Reluctant Racehorse
Twenty-Five Memories of Viggo MacDuff
Cas Lester........................................... 29
Jacqui Halpin....................................... 17
Patty and the Shadows: Game Day! # 2
Andy Mulligan................................... 30 Erik the Lone Wolf
Patty Mills........................................... 20
Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner..................... 37
Sarah Finan......................................... 16 Esme's Wish
Pax Sara Pennypacker........................... .29
Voyage to Avalon: The Mice of the Round Table # 2
Elizabeth Foster................................. 31
Julie Leung.......................................... 23
Game Changer!: The Susie K Files # 2
Ella West............................................. 34
Clover’s Big Ideas Georgie Donaghey............................ 17
Shamini Flint....................................... 19 Gemini Sonya Mukherjee............................. 37 Graevale: The Medoran Chronicles # 4 Lynette Noni...................................... 33 Hark It's Me, Ruby Lee! Lisa Shanahan.................................. 18 Have Sword, Will Travel Garth Nix & Sean Williams............ 28 I Swapped My Brother on the Internet
Room on our Rock Kate & Jol Temple.............................. 16 Sam's Surfboard Showdown Allayne L. Webster and Amanda S. Clarke .....................19 Scythe Neal Shusterman............................. 38 Storybook Stars Jim Dewar............................................ 17 The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. Kate Messner..................................... 23
Jo Simmons........................................ 25
The Cruel Prince: The Folk of the Air # 1
Holly Black......................................... 39
Jessica Watson.................................. 35
The Extraordinary Colours of Auden Dare
Intergalactic Gas: Bad Guys Episode 5 Aaron Blabey..................................... 21 Kate and the Thing Heidi Cooper Smith.......................... 18 Libby in the Middle Gwyneth Rees.................................. 24 Life of the Party!: The Susie K Files # 1 Shamini Flint....................................... 18
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Zillah Bethell...................................... 26 The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone Jaclyn Moriarty................................... 27 The Five Misfits Beatrice Alemagna.......................... 18 The Picky Puffin: Zoe's Rescue Zoo Amelia Cobb...................................... 20
Paul Dowswell................................... 35 Yay! It’s Library Day Aleesah Darlison................................15
Whatâ€™s on the horizon
bookcurator.com.au | 43
Is your library accessible
for ALL readers? HIGH interest stories LOW reading levels Order by 28/2/18 and SAVE more!*
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