Author – Paul Jennings
Illustrator – Geoff Kelly
Age – 9+
A boy gets up one morning from the floor of his room. His bed was burnt for firewood the night before, just to keep him and his mum warm. The boy has a plan to improve their lives, but first he has to climb a hill on this frosty morning. But on the way up he sees an accident and he is the only one who is there to help.
He tries to sound the alarm but his voice doesn’t work. It hasn’t for some time, and he’s teased about it at school. But he can do something. A dog has been thrown from the vehicle and the boy is determined to save it. But this dog is special and the way out is treacherous. Can he get them to safety and then save the dog from its past?
By the renowned author Paul Jennings, A Different Dog has been written with reluctant readers in mind, but still gives any reader a story about bullying, poverty, courage and survival.
(Animal, Dog, Courage, Poverty, Bullying, Accident, Reluctant Reader)
Author – Bren MacDibble
Age – 10+
Peony lives in a world where bees no longer exist and all pollinating and pest control is done by hand in orchards. She lives with her grandpa and older sister Mags in a tin shed, earning their living by working in the orchard. Peony, and Mags are ‘Pests’, killing pests as they find them. But Peony wants to be a ‘Bee’, climbing the trees and using special sticks to pollinate the flowers. At 9, she is one year too young, but she tries out anyway.
When her mum returns from the city, telling her of money to be made and lovely places to live, Peony doesn’t want to know. Although poor, they are happy in the orchard. But Mum won’t take no for an answer.
The city is like nothing Peony has ever seen, with a toilet inside, water that comes out of the wall, and lovely soft beds. But the work is long and the daughter of the house is incredibly spoiled. An unlikely friendship builds, Peony needing help to get home, and Esmeralda needing courage to leave her grand house.
This is a wonderful story of friendship, determination, and the power of family. Loved it!
(Climate change, Family, Abuse, Courage, Future, Friendship)
Author – Vivian French
Illustrator – Marta Kissi
Age – 7+
Princess Peony is one of 7 princesses in the land of Grating. But Peony, to her governesses horror, is different than her sisters. She would rather read or cook than practice being regal, try on new dresses or think about princes, like her sisters do.
But when she learns a trip to the library years before had ended with her father throwing the elderly librarian in jail – just for answering one of Peony’s questions – she is determined to have him freed.
But the king is busy helping organise his new son’s christening and he won’t listen to her pleads. So Peony sets out to free the librarian herself. But an old hag is coming to the christening, determined to wreak havoc because she wasn’t invited!
Peony is up against black magic, and her father’s temper, but first she has to escape from the dungeon he has locked her in!
This story is a little ‘Rapunzel’ and a lot ‘Sleeping Beauty’, but perfectly good as its own story of a princess who also makes magnificent cherry pies!
(Kindness, Determination, Magic, Fairytale)
Author/Illustrator – Sally Rippen
Age – 7+
Polly just can’t get her spells right. She’s laughed at, at witch school and her only friend is her neighbour Buster. But Buster is a monster and witch-monster friendships are a no-no.
One day on a school trip, her witch class runs into Buster’s monster class. When Polly ignores Buster, his secret is out. He feels things very strongly. When he feels sad he shrinks and looks grey. Polly sees his classmates teasing him and he’s so sad and small. She goes to his rescue and suddenly sparks are flying from her fingers! Can she do spells after all?
This is a story of friendships and popularity (especially at school), and which one is more important. Polly has to make a choice, and she does – but is it the right one?
I really liked this new story from the author of Billie B Brown and Hey Jack. It’s going to be a great series!
Author – Lauren Wolk
Age – 12+
Crow was found as a tiny baby in a boat set adrift among a group of islands. She was found and raised by a man she calls Osh. He is a man of little words, but he is wise and kind and has a past of his own that he never speaks of. No one on the islands knew where Crow came from but she is shunned just in case she came from the leper colony nearby.
As Crow has grown, her desire to know her roots has too, and when she sees a fire on the old leper colony island, she wants to investigate. But her curiosity brings more than the answers she seeks. Attempted murder, possible siblings, clues left among graves and abandoned places, and a treasure a madman is seeking.
This is a story about belonging, knowing where you come from and loving those who raised you as family, whether they’re blood or not. Another stunning story from this wonderful storyteller. By the author of Wolf Hollow.
(Mystery, Family, Blended Family, Action, Courage, Leper, History, Prejudice)
Author – James Russell
Animations – Yongtao Zhang
Age – 7+
Paddy & his older brother live on an island with their parents and little sister Ada. They have never seen a cellphone, tv, computer or even electricity, and spend their time hunting, climbing, running, digging, making things or adventuring. When they see a boat moored just off the island, they wonder who it could be?
The owners of the boat are after dragons and will do anything to get them. Can the boys stop them and protect their family too?
Chocka full of action, adventure and it also comes with an exciting ‘AR Reads’ app that can be downloaded which brings the story alive digitally too. Read traditionally or with ‘the app, this story is a fabulous follow-on for the Dragon Brothers Picture Book Series.
(Series, Fantasy, Family, Animals, Courage, Dragons, Action)
Author – Justine Windsor
Illustrator – Becka Moor
Age – 7+
Lucy and her parents are gamblers and they have something that ensures they always win when they need to. But someone has figured them out and suddenly Lucy is part of a bet and they lose!
She is taken to a grand house by Lord Grave and is to be his boot girl. She is used to a grander life and balks at her new one, but is soon caught up in a scheme of magical proportions. Flying horses, tears in time, missing children and black panthers – not to mention an evil witch and a farting cat.
Lucy’s gambling skills are quickly forgotten as she discovers her magical ones. Who are the goodies and who are the villains? The plot swings one way and then the other, drawing the reader into the story. Full of action, magic and mystery, this is a rollicking read.
(Historical, Mystery, Magic, Fantasy, Friendship, Abduction, Courage)