Monsters by Anna Fienberg and illustrated by Kim Gamble and Stephen Axelsen

If you worry about monsters in your bedroom then Tildy and Hendrik have a plan for you…

Tildy knows there are monsters in her bedroom. They are hiding under her bed, reading her books and playing with her games. They’re big and bold and bossy and sail into her bedroom on the moonlight. Only Tildy can see the monsters. She sleeps with one eye open and the monsters are making her miserable. Hendrik, a new boy arrives at school and also knows about monsters. He becomes Tilda’s friend and has a plan to help Tildy deal with with her monsters.

Monsters isn’t a scary book. It is a warm and playful and encourages us to be brave. Part of the story is set in Kim Gamble’s childhood garden, where as a child he would lie for hours on his back looking up at the clouds, seeing ships, dragons and monsters. Kim Gamble and Stephen Axelson have let their imaginations run wild to create an array of monsters that cheekily play and hide on the pages of the book.

How many different types of monsters you can find? Draw the monsters that hide in your bedroom or use your imagination to create and draw your own scary, funny, fierce or friendly monsters. 

Kim Gamble is one of my favourite illustrators with his whimsical water colour illustrations. You will know Anna Fienberg and Kim Gamble from the much loved Tashi series they created together. In this video, Kim uses chalk pastel to create a scene for Tashi and the Golem. It’s magical!

A Final Note:

Sadly Kim Gamble passed away in 2016 before he finished the illustrations for Monsters. In a beautiful example of friendship, his childhood friend and illustrator Stephen Axelsen finished the illustrations for Anna and Kim’s book.

Thank you for giving us one last book to read and treasure Anna, Kim and Stephen.

Happy reading!

Teacher Notes

 

The Polly and Buster series by Sally Rippin

Today I had the absolute delight of meeting Sally Rippin. Sally’s passion for creating books for children shines as brightly as her infectious smile.  

Sally loves reading, writing and drawing and says that she is lucky to do what she loves every day. Sally has been writing since she was very young. When she was about 15 years old Sally was a babysitter and would made books like this one for the children she looked after. Sally was destined to become a book creator!

Sally explained that stories come from two places – your imagination and your experience (things that happen to you). Books are a combination of both. When you write a story it needs good characters and a problem.

Sally wanted to write a series with two new characters and use lots of imagination. She likes witches and thought a monster for a best friend for her witch would let her use her imagination. The next step was to create a problem for her characters and after filling her notebook with lots of ideas, Sally decided her problem would be that her friends were not allowed to be friends any more and they would have to fight for their friendship.

Next step was to decide what her characters would look like. Sally’s first picture was in pen and the start of her ideas. Someone told her that Buster looked like a ‘hairy potato’!!

Sally did lots of research about different types of monsters and witches before she created her final pictures of Polly Proggett and Buster Grewclaw using charcoal.

Once Sally knew her characters then she began to create their world of Blackmoon Coven that we enter when we read the Polly and Buster series.

Me and you,
You and me,
That’s the way it
will always be … (Buster)

Polly the witch and Buster the Feelings Monster have the sort of friendship that makes your heart squeeze with happiness. In a world where witches can never be friends with monsters, Polly and Buster have managed to keep their friendship a secret. Until one day when everything changes…

What would you do
if everyone thought
your best friend was
dangerous?

In this book, Polly and Buster are on the run from nearly everyone in town. Who is sending Polly messages through the magical stones and will Polly follow the messages? Polly and Buster have big decisions to make. Will they stay safe and hidden or risk it all to save the day? 

At the end of her session, Sally gave one of the best gifts an author can give their readers and read some of her new Polly and Buster book. It is such a privilege to hear an author read the words they have carefully chosen to write their story.

If you haven’t met Polly and Buster yet, then it’s time you did! Polly and Buster’s friendship is warm, funny and magical and together as friends they can face whatever comes their way…they would love you to join them on their adventures!

If you ever have the chance to go along and meet Sally, please make sure you do because you will will be in for a wonderful treat!

Happy reading!

Teacher notes

 

The Champion Charlies series by Adrian Beck

Charles was the best player in the boys’ football team.
Charlotte was the best player in the girls’ side.
But this season they’re both playing in the SAME mixed team
Is there room for TWO Champion Charlies in the ONE side?

Adrian Beck has combined his cheeky brand of humour with his love of football (soccer) to create a fun sport series that celebrates the world game of football.

The Mix-Up is the first book in The Champion Charlies series.

Charlotte Alessi and Charles ‘CJ’ Jackson are talented football players at the Jets Football Club. Charlotte is ultra organised, has a no-nonsense ponytail and is smart. CJ is a risk-taking daredevil who doesn’t like to follow rules and is not always smart which we quickly learn when he attempts a kamikaze rescue mission of a football stuck in a tree in the opening chapter. These two total opposites will need to find a way to work together in a mixed football team if they want to continue playing their beloved football.

CJ and Charlotte both have qualities that would make them a good team captain. CJ desperately wants to be the Jets’ captain and gets himself into all sorts of trouble as he tries to win over teammates and puts his friendship with his mate Benji at risk. CJ and Charlotte finally overcome their rivalry at a Matilda’s game when they hear striker, Sam Kerr explain the key to the Matildas’ success “We just pull together, try to use everyone’s skills and face every challenge as a team.” 

There’s lots of football action in the final chapters as the Jets try to bond as a team to beat their arch rivals, the Hillside Hammersmiths. Watch for a clever tweak to the Jets’ tactics (courtesy of The Dancing Dads) in the second half. Which team will win and who will be named the new captain of the Jets?

One of my favourite characters is Mr Hyants, otherwise known as High Pants. He is named as the new coach even though he has never coached before. After reading a sports blog about inspirational music, High Pants (who always wanted to be a pop star) coaches the team by singing karaoke from the sidelines with songs to motivate them. Imagine hearing ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ when you’re doing goal kicking practice or ‘Shake it Off!’ when you fall over! It’s a very unique way of coaching!  

Top Five Reasons to read the The Mix-Up

It’s fun

You can read about sport

There are fun facts about football

You’ll know how to do the 4-2-2 formation (I do now!)

You might want a karaoke coach 

 

Try the first chapter of The Mix-Up!  HERE

The second book Boot It is also available and the next two books in the series will be published in September.

Writing workshop with Adrian Beck at The Little Bookroom
Tuesday, July 10th

This workshop is for 7-12 year-olds during the school holidays. Each ticket includes a copy of the book The Champion Charlies: The Mix-Up which will be available to collect at the workshop.
You can book your place HERE  I guarantee it will be fun writing with Adrian!

Happy reading and playing soccer!

Teacher notes

 

The Most Marvellous Spelling Bee Mystery by Deborah Abela

There are words to be spelled,
Nerves to be overcome,
And a champion to be found!

If you enjoyed The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee you will be excited to read the sequel The Most Marvellous Spelling Bee Mystery by Deborah Abela 

.

In The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee we met India Wimple, a shy girl who was a brilliant speller, but suffered from stage fright when spelling in front of an audience. Thanks to the unwavering support and creative ideas from India’s close-knit family and country town community of Yungabilla, India achieved her spelling dream at the Grand Final at the Sydney Opera House.

Teacher notes

India’s life in Yungabilla is returning to normal when we meet her in The Most Marvellous Spelling Bee Mystery as she receives an invitation to compete in the Most Marvellous International Spelling Bee in London. However, India can only take one person with her and there is no way India will go without her family! The Yungabilla community are very proud of their spelling champion and come up with a solution.

In London, India is reunited with her friend Rajish and they are both surprised to see the positive changes in their fellow speller, Summer. We also meet new spellers, Peter Eriksson from London and Holly Trifle from Canada. Holly’s parents who are fitness fanatics and own a business called Beaut Butts & Guts will have you cringing, especially when the spellers meet the Queen at Buckingham Palace. 

A series of mysterious mishaps threaten to stop the competition and India and her friends work together with some clever detective work to find the culprit and ensure the Spelling Bee continues. They’re a bit like the Famous Five!

Deborah Abela cleverly includes the spelling bee process in the chapter headings by using a spelling word, its definition and including the word in a sentence. This gives you a clue and invites you to predict what might happen in the chapter.

There is a wonderful spirit of friendship in this competition where the children are not just competitors, but also become friends. Only one of the spellers can win The Most Marvellous Spelling Bee, but they are all winners in the way they grow and learn more about themselves.

Heart-warming
(adjective):
Making you feel happy because you see other people being happy or kind to each other

This is a heartwarming story that celebrates friendship and family and encourages self-belief.

Happy reading and spelling!

Teacher notes

Missing by Sue Whiting

I could not put this book down!

When I read the first three chapters of Missing to a Year 5 class, they were hooked from the first line…‘In the dead of the night we ran away.’

Mackenzie da Luca’s mother is missing. Maggie da Luca is a scientist who specialises in bats. When visiting the small town of Boquete in Central America she vanishes without a trace in the jungles of Panama. After her mother has been missing for 114 days, Mackenzie’s dad is still desperate for answers and sneaks off at night with Mackenzie in tow to Panama to find the truth. Mackenzie however has her own theory about her mother’s disappearance and is not sure if she wants her dad to find her mum.

The story alternates between ‘Then’ in Sydney as 12 year old Mackenzie and her family attempt to adjust to life without her mother and ‘Now’ in Panama where Mackenzie is reluctantly searching for clues with her dad. By weaving together the family’s life before and after Maggie’s disappearance, Sue Whiting gradually reveals the pieces of this mystery puzzle.

Mackenzie is a resilient girl, but it’s not easy beginning secondary school without your old primary school friends and the support of your mother. She finds comfort in her sketching and is befriended by the rebellious Billie who takes her under her wing.

When she arrives in Panama, Mackenzie finds it confronting to be wandering the streets of Boquete where her mother was last seen and finds herself wondering…

Did she walk along here? Did the people in the shops and on the street see her? Speak to her on her last day here? Am I walking right past someone who might have seen her get on the bus back to David, leaving Boquete? Or someone who actually knows what happened to her?’ 

A chance meeting with a wildlife worker sets Mackenzie off doing her own risky detective work and asking herself…Is it is better to know or not know the truth about her missing mother?

If you’re in Year 5 and 6 and like a mystery with twists and turns and a roller coaster ride of emotions then Missing is the book for you.

Happy reading!

Teacher notes

Olive Black: The Pyramid Puzzle by Alex Miles

Olive Black is a ten year old who is living her dream as a movie star, jetting around the world filming, doing movie promotions and interviews. Rather than being full of her own self-importance, Olive is a down to earth, funny, caring and adventurous girl in Year Five whose BFF is Rani.

The Pyramid Puzzle is Olive Black’s fifth movie adventure written by Alex Miles. This story was inspired by one of Olive’s fans who suggested to Alex that Olive should star in a movie about mummies.

In her latest movie The Pyramid Puzzle, Olive is a junior archeologist who is uncovering ancient secrets in the tombs of Egypt. When she returns to school Olive has another puzzle to solve when she meets a new teacher who introduces herself as Harriet. A teacher using her first name is surprising, but the shocked reaction of their teacher Miss Loople when she sees Harriet has Olive and her friends intrigued. What is the connection between the teachers and why is Miss Loople always trying to avoid Harriet?

Olive and her friends decide to dig a little deeper into the school archives to find out more about Harriet, especially when she takes the credit for Miss Loople and their class’s idea for the spectacular Egypt Alive day. Thanks to some unexpected help from Nathan the naughtiest boy in her class and some missing toilet paper, all is finally revealed.

This is a fun Egyptian mystery filled with adventure and lots of great ITHEAs (Idea That’s Hyper-Extremely Awesome)!

Alex Miles (or is that Cleopatra?) had fun talking about her book on Kids WB. You can watch it HERE

These are some things I discovered about Alex at a recent school library visit…

Alex liked to read Choose Your Own Adventure and Agatha Christie mysteries

Alex wrote 8 books in the popular Zac Power series

Alex’s first Olive Black book took 7 years to write – she had to have lots of patience and perseverance! 

Alex likes acting just like Olive and she published her first play at secondary school when she was 17 years old

Alex doesn’t use any technology to write her book until the final draft. She starts writing in her journal and plots the story on a wall using post-it notes

It takes about six months to create an Olive Black book including thinking of the idea, plotting, editing and illustrating

Some writing tips from Alex…

Create great well-rounded characters – get to know them

Use ideas from the people and the world around you

Give your character challenges outside their comfort zone

Use your Imagination Muscle regularly!

You might like to invite Alex to your school to do some writing creativity sessions with your class and help you exercise your Imagination Muscle!

Happy reading!

Dr Boogaloo and The Girl Who Lost Her Laughter by Lisa Nicol

Can you imagine what your life would be like without laughter?

Dr Boogaloo is no ordinary doctor. Strange disorders and unusual complaints are his specialty. Dr Boogaloo is the doctor you see when you have Talks In Slow Motion Syndrome or You Can Only Sleep Hanging Upside Down Syndrome. Dr Boogaloo and his family use the most powerful medicine of all to cure patients…music! The Boogaloo Family Clinic of Musical Cures has never had a complaint that couldn’t be cured until Blue arrived. Ten-year-old Blue hasn’t laughed for 712 days!

Dr Boogaloo suspects Blue has No Laughing Syndrome and sends her to The Snorkel Porkel Crumpety Worpel Laughter Clinic to be sure. Unlike you and I, Blue doesn’t laugh or even giggle at the Tickle Machine, blooper reels, hula-hooping cats in bikinis, YouTube videos of epic fails, or even at Gassy Gus who can blow up balloons with his bottom.

Dr Boogaloo has two weeks to compose an urgent cure for Blue before she loses her laughter forever. Blue needs the right dose of the right music, but there’s no point listening to a jive if you’re in need of some boogie-woogie, and you can’t just substitute a toot for a blow! Blue patiently listens to talented musicians playing music and instruments she didn’t know existed and even summons the courage to swim with Leonard the Blues singing humpback whale in an attempt to help her laugh again. It isn’t until Dr Boogaloo has almost given up in despair that he finds the cure he needs for Blue in an unexpected place.

One of my favourite parts of the story is the daily ride Blue takes to the clinic on Bessie’s extraordinary iBike. This strange contraption looks like it has an entire orchestra collapsed on it and plays over a million tunes that change with the landscape as you ride along. It would be fun to draw or make your version of the iBike (and even include music and a matching landscape) after reading the fabulous description on pages 41-42.

This is a quirky, funny and sometimes sad story that celebrates laughter, friendship and the power and magic of music.

“Not everyone hears the right music – or knows how to listen. And they suffer terribly… if you don’t let your heart fly, your tune gets right out of whack. It’s a bit like spending your whole life indoors – it’s just not good for your health.” (Bessie)

Happy reading!

Teaching notes

Digger by Mike Dumbleton

‘A Digger for a digger, she said, hugging her brother. “I’ll keep him safe,” James promised, as he tucked the kangaroo into his top pocket.”

This story set in World War 1, was inspired by a photo Mike Dumbleton saw of French children tending the graves of Australian soldiers who died on the Western Front in the heroic battle for Villers-Bretonneux in April 1918. With its poignant watercolour illustrations by Robin Coucher, it is a gentle book that tells a powerful story.

When Annie’s big brother James goes to war, she stitches the name Digger on her much loved toy kangaroo to give him as a farewell present. James keeps Digger safely in the top pocket of his uniform. As the story unfolds, Digger becomes unstitched, torn and tattered during the fighting. When James is injured, he is cared for by a French family whose daughter Colette kindly mends Digger for him. Not long after, Digger is returned to Colette who sadly mends Digger again with love and care, even making him a little slouch hat, before he is returned safely to Annie in Australia. Digger brings comfort to Annie with the knowledge that on the other side of the world, Colette cared about her brother James, just as she had cared about Digger.

A beautiful tribute and reminder of the special connection that Australia shares with the French town of Villers-Bretonneux.

I’m giving one of my ‘tissue alerts’ for this story that will touch your heart.

Happy reading!

Teaching Notes 

 

Fearless Frederic by Felice Arena

Last year Felice Arena’s writing took a new turn when he released his first historical fiction novel. The Boy and the Spy took his readers on thrilling spy adventure set in Sicily during World War Two. I know there will be many readers excited to read his latest historical fiction novel Fearless Frederic.

In Fearless Frederic, readers are transported to Paris during the ‘Great Flood’ of 1910 when many people were made homeless as the water from the River Seine rose up through the sewers into their homes. The lives of Frederic, Claire and Thierry intersect in an exciting adventure where friendship and courage are central. They become the Floodwater Friends as they rescue others from rising flood waters, encounter a dangerous escaped zoo animal and battle against pickpockets and looters. Frederic learns important lessons as they work together like the Three Musketeers to stop art thieves and bring about justice for Frederic’s father.

You are going to be immersed in life in Paris in 1910 and swept up in this fast moving adventure.

Don’t forget to read the back of the book where Felice explains how he came to the idea for this story and the research he undertook to ensure his story is realistic and accurate. You can also read the back story of Fearless Frederic in this interview with Felice.

After reading Fearless Frederic, I have a list of places to visit and thanks to Thierry, the magnificent Sainte Genevieve library is at the top of my list!

Look closely as you watch the book trailer. Can you see a creature?

Happy reading!

Teacher notes