Beware The Deep Dark Forest by Sue Whiting

“You must beware the deep, dark forest,”
Rosie told Tinky.
“Never, ever go in there.”

Rosie has never gone into the deep, dark forest, but when her puppy Tinky runs off into the forest she has to find him. 

“But the deep, dark forest is thick with danger,” warned Rosie’s Grandma. “Carnivorous plants they say.”
And venomous snakes,” said Rosie’s dad. “So I’ve heard.”

Would you go into the deep, dark forest?

Rosie can’t leave Tinky lost and alone in the dangerous forest and goes on a quest to rescue him. She needs to have courage as the forest becomes deeper, darker and muddier. Along the way, Rosie has to bravely sneak past a big, bristly brute, find a way to cross a place that is dizzily, dangerously, dreadfully deep and face a menacing, monstrous, muddy creature to save Tinky.

Sometimes like Rosie we don’t know how brave and clever we can be.

Sue Whiting has written a story that is like a fairytale. It is lots of fun to read aloud with its repetition and descriptive words, especially when Rosie stands up to the muddy creature at the end! Can you find ways Sue has used words to make her writing scary, exciting and fun? 

Annie White‘s earthy water colour illustrations take you into the forest with Rosie and often as the reader you can see things in the forest that Rosie can’t see. Can you see any carnivorous plants and venomous snakes or spot the shadow of the menacing, monstrous muddy creature? What has been printed on the purple endpapers, can you explain why?

If you like scary stories that are fun and going on quests where you can be a hero, then Beware The Deep Dark Forest is just the book for you!

Happy reading!

Teacher notes by Sue Whiting

Why I Love Summer by Michael Wagner

There are four seasons in a year, and they’re all AWESOME, but only one gets to be summer.

We are getting closer to summer here in Australia and along with Mitch, lots of people LOVE summer. In summer the sun shines, the sky is blue, days are longer and for a while everyone in the family is on holidays at the same time.

Summer is time to put on your t-shirt, cap and sunscreen and spend hours outside playing with friends, riding your bike, epic backyard cricket games, water fights, doing bombs in the pool and going nuts in the sun. There’s also Mitch’s favourite time of the day, Ice-cream O’Clock and family barbecues when you can stay up later than school nights because there are hardly any rules in summer. Mitch and his family along with many other families in summer go camping at the beach where everyone is happy and there’s so much to do…and Mitch can be with his family all the time.

Michael Wagner (author of Why I Love Footyreminds of what we love about summer in such a fun way. What are some of your favourite things to do in summer? Ask your mum and dad or even your grandparents what they liked to do in their summer holidays when they were kids. What was their favourite ice cream? 

Tom Jellet‘s illustrations are a celebration of our Australian summer and capture in colourful detail the ways our summer is unique. Take a close look at the ice creams on the endpapers, what dad’s cooking on the barbie, the fun summer activities, and I’m sure walking down that sandy path and catching a glimpse of the beach will be familiar to many of you.

You can also download a fabulous Why I Love Summer Activity Pack and have fun inventing an icy-pole, writing a holiday postcard or spotting things in the beach picture like a one-legged seagull and even Santa Claus!

Thank you Michael and Tom for such a fun book to remind us of why we love summer and wish it could last forever…

Happy reading!

Total Quack Up! edited by Sally Rippin and Adrian Becks

Total Quack Up! is a collection of short stories from some of Australia’s funniest children’s authors guaranteed to have you quacking up and laughing out loud! So be careful where you read this book…

Sally Rippin and Adrian Beck are the editors of Total Quack Up! They wanted to help raise money for Dymocks Children’s Charities who work very hard to make sure kids across the country get their hands on great books and develop the skills they need to read them. Sally and Adrian asked eight author friends if they would like to write a funny story and James Foley to be the illustrator. These generous people donated their story and illustrations to create this book and all of the proceeds from Total Quack Up! will go to Dymock’s Children’s Charities.

Buying a copy of Total Quack Up! is a ‘win-win’ because you get a funny book to enjoy AND you will be helping other kids to have books so they can enjoy reading too!

Here’s a taste of the stories in Total Quack Up!…

After reading Total Quack Up! you might be inspired to write your own funny short story…

Happy reading!

Kids Book Fest Wrap Up

On Saturday, The Little Bookroom celebrated it’s 58th birthday with it’s inaugural Kids Books Fest. It was a day of celebrating books and reading with a session for young readers in the morning and I attended the afternoon for primary school children.

(Watch in full screen by clicking on the square)

By 2pm everyone was seated and eager for our exciting afternoon to begin…

Author vs Illustrator Debate
We were treated to a lively debate between author and illustrator partners  chaired by Peter Helliar (Frankie Fish series). The panel was made up of Danny Katz and Mitch Vane (The Little Lunch and Poppa Platoon series), Andrew McDonald and Ben Wood (Real Pigeons series) and Andrew Hansen and Jessica Roberts (Bab Sharkey and the Animal Mummies series). They had to convince us which is more important – words or pictures? What do you think?

Illustration Battle
The illustrators battled each other under extreme pressure with just THREE minutes to draw requests from the audience! It’s not easy drawing a moth with cheese for antennas or a zombie unicorn with a banana horn. Mitch Vane and Ben Wood’s illustrations were so close they used ‘Paper, Scissors, Rock’ to decide the winner! The final result was a draw between Mitch Vane and Jessica Roberts.

Total Quack Up! 
Sally Rippin and Adrian Beck are the editors of Total Quack Up! They wanted to do something to help raise money for Dymocks Children’s Charities who provide books to children who don’t have access to books. Sally and Adrian approached eight author friends to write a funny story for the book and James Foley to be the illustrator. All of these generous people donated their story and illustrations to create this book. Total Quack Up! is guaranteed to have you laughing and quacking up! Buying a copy means you will be helping other kids to have books so they can enjoy reading too.

We had laughed lots while listening to Adrian and Sally read ‘Who Blocked Up the Dunny?’ written by Ella Wallace who won a competition to have her story published as James Foley illustrated the ‘unplugging’ part of the story. 

Gastronauts Launch
James Foley launched his book Gastronauts which is the third book in his Sally Tinker series. We were all blown away when James showed us his dummy book of illustrations that stretched across the front of the room and round the corner! 

In Conversation: Sally Rippin and Elliot Perlman
Elliot Perlman is a famous author of adult books who has written his first book for children called The Adventures of Catvinkle Elliot told Sally that Ula the dog in the story is based on his dog called Ula when he was growing up. The children in the audience were very lucky to be the first children to hear Elliot read his book aloud – what a treat it was!

 A BIG thank you to Leesa and the staff of The Little Bookroom and all of the authors and illustrators for a fabulous afternoon of celebrating books and reading. See you next year!

Happy reading!

Lemonade Jones by Davina Bell

Lemonade Jones has the BEST name! She is a six year old who bubbles with sass and enthusiasm. Lemonade Jones is full of questions, tells the truth (a bit too honestly at times) and finds it hard to stick to rules because she likes things to be loud and exciting.

Lemonade Jones’ feisty and funny character has been delightfully created by Davina Bell and brought to life with Karen Blair’s water colour and pencil illustrations that perfectly capture Lemonade’s world at home and school.

In The First Day Back, Lemonade Jones’ old school has closed and she is starting at a new school. The day doesn’t begin well when Lemonade Jones discovers she isn’t in the same Year One class as her best friend Clark Dark. How can they get married if they’re in different classrooms? There are also rules to remember and students to deal with like Leela Blue who likes to be the best. Adjusting to a new teacher and class is hard and Lemonade Jones even has to spend time in the Quiet Corner after a rather unfortunate incident with Marcus Crackle. At the end of a long first day, Miss Wisby reminds Lemonade Jones that each day is a new chance to learn and she can start afresh tomorrow.

Lemonade Jones is celebrating her sixth birthday and has invited the whole class to her first party in The Zoo That Comes To You. In Show and Grow she delights in telling everyone about all of the zoo animals that will be at her party. On the day however, the zoo keeper and zoo animals are not at all what Lemonade Jones had been expecting, but imagination, creativity and a fire engine save the day! “That was the best birthday party ever” said Clark Dark.

I’m really looking forward to following more of Lemonade Jones’ adventures in her very own series.

Happy Reading!

Teacher notes

His Name Was Walter by Emily Rodda

Emily Rodda is one of Australia’s most well known children’s authors and you may have already enjoyed her Rowan, Rondo or Deltora Quest fantasy series. Rowan of Rin is still one of my favourite books! Emily Rodda’s real name is Jeanette Rowe. She writes using Emily Rodda for her children’s books and as Jeanette Rowe for her adult mystery books. 

Emily Rodda’s latest book, His Name Was Walter is mystery, fantasy, supernatural, historical fiction and part love story all rolled into one book. It is a story within a story that will keep you turning the pages to find out what happened to Walter and why it is so important to the anonymous author that he is remembered. 

When the mini bus breaks down on their history excursion, Mrs Fiori and four students take shelter overnight in an abandoned mansion in Storm Valley. Little do they know how a piece of history will change after this night. In the kitchen, Colin notices an elegant handcrafted writing desk where he discovers a secret drawer containing amongst other treasures, a beautifully handwritten book filled with exquisite water colour illustrations. It’s title is His Name Was Walter.

Colin and Tara are drawn to the mysterious book and secretly read it by torch light when the others go to sleep and become lost in Walter’s story. After being abandoned, Walter is raised in a beehive, works for mice, befriends a witch who can turn into a cat, falls in love with a girl who can turn into a sparrow and battles a beast. Colin and Tara feel compelled to finish the book as they sense the menacing mansion is hiding a tragic secret. Mrs Fiori and her students discover His Name Was Walter is more than a  fairytale and it helps them to right an injustice so Walter can be remembered as an honest, brave and loyal young man.

Who was Walter?

Why did Sparrow want Walter’s story to be told?
 

You can read the first three chapters HERE.

Happy reading!

Teacher Notes

I’ve Got Eyes! by Julie Murphy

This is a guest book review by Mrs Brooks, a teacher librarian in Brisbane for I’ve Got Eyes! written by Julie Murphy and illustrated by Hannah TolsonThe children at her school library love reading this book!

The Eyes Have It!

I’ve Got Eyes! written by Julie Murphy, a trained zoologist and zookeeper, is a highly engaging non-fiction book about some of the exceptional eyes found in the animal kingdom.

Using double pages to combine easy to read and highly informative facts and colourful close-up illustrations, Julie and Hannah enable readers to discover fascinating clues about familiar (and not so familiar animals) and how their eyes have adapted to their unique environments. Can you guess which animal has HANDLEBAR eyes or why oblong eyes are VERY useful for a goat?

This book will amaze and intrigue readers as they pore over the pages, delighting in discovering why animal eyes are so different, whilst pondering the question – What can our eyes do?

Happy reading!

Real Pigeons Fight Crime by Andrew McDonald

Did you know your city is protected by a secret squad of crime-fighting pigeons? Yes, pigeons!

Some pigeons might spend their day cooing or looking for breadcrumbs, but not the Real Pigeons! This feathered secret crime-fighting squad solve mysteries and fight bad guys to keep your city safe. Andrew McDonald and Ben Wood reveal all in Real Pigeons Fight Crime.

GrandPouter has gathered together his team of pigeons who are perfect for fighting crime because they are fast, can attack and they’re everywhere! Each pigeon in the team also has his own unique pigeon power. They hold their top secret team meetings in rubbish bins (which can be dangerous on bin collection day!) and are always on the look out for animals and people to help and mysteries to solve. They might be checking out your neighbourhood right now!  

In the three stories in this book, GrandPouter, Rock, Homey, Tumbler and Frillback work together using some very creative (or is that crazy) problem solving combined with their pigeon powers to solve The Great Breadcrumb Mystery, track down an elusive Bat Trapper and prevent a disaster at the Food Truck Fair. Keep an eye out for Rock’s clever (and sometimes wacky) disguises and Tumbler’s impressive flight moves when he flies at night with the bats. 

If you’re looking for a new funny series to read then this is it. I’m sure you will have as much fun reading Real Pigeons Fight Crime as Andrew and Ben have had writing and illustrating it. They are a fabulous team who share the same wacky sense of humour that bursts out their book! You won’t look at pigeons in the same way ever again!

Create your own Real Pigeon
Research pigeons to help you create your own Real Pigeon character.

What are its characteristics and pigeon power?
What is its name?
What will it look like?

Lucky for you, the second book in the Real Pigeon series called Real Pigeons Eat Danger will be coming in November! Read more about it HERE

Happy reading and being Super Coo fighting crime with the Real Pigeons!

Teacher notes

The Mulberry Tree by Allison Rushby

The Mulberry Tree by Allison Rushby is mysterious, a little spooky and one of those books you can’t put down because you need to know how the story ends. 

When ten year old Immy and her parents move from Sydney, Australia to a small English village they shrug off the legend of the ancient and fierce-looking mulberry tree in the backyard of Lavendar Cottage that has cast fear over the village for years. The villagers believe the mulberry tree steals away girls living in the cottage on the eve of their eleventh birthday and they superstitiously cross the road to avoid the mulberry tree and Immy’s family. Immy struggles to make friends at her new school, her dad is still not himself after an incident and life is not working out as well as her family had planned. 

When Immy starts hearing a mysterious rhyme in her head she is determined to find out what happened to the two missing girls. Immy researches the legend at the local library and has help from her elderly neighbour Jean whose best friend Elizabeth was the second girl to disappear in 1945. Tension rises as Immy’s eleventh birthday draws closer when she notices changes in the mulberry tree outside her window. The tree no longer looks angry, but rather tired and weak and even sad. Immy begins to feel sorry for the tree and wonders what could have caused the vicious marks on its trunk. “You can trust me” she told the tree. “I won’t hurt you.” 

Can brave Immy solve the mystery of the mulberry tree before she too disappears on her eleventh birthday?

Happy reading!

Teacher notes

The Heart of a Whale by Anna Pignataro

The Heart of a Whale by Anna Pignataro is a gentle story of a whale whose enchanting song brings happiness and hope, magic and wonder to the ocean and its inhabitants, but whale is lonely and nothing can fill his empty heart.

 Anna’s whimsical water colour illustrations will take you swimming into the depths of the ocean through seagrass taller than a forest, past seabeds, through fathoms and over dreaming turtles and forgotten treasure and it will warm your heart when whale’s wish is finally heard from far away.

Anna has used water colour, ink and pencil to create her illustrations. Open the book to see the full page front cover and have fun finding the many colourful sea creatures and plants throughout the story. This beautiful story is like a poem so read it aloud and let the rhythm of the words carry you along just like the ocean carried whale’s song…

Do you have a favourite illustration or sentence?

Watch this video if you’re interested in learning more about why whales sing.

Happy reading!