Archive for the ‘Junior Fiction’ Category

Ellie, Engineer by Jackson Pearce.

December 11, 2018 Comments off

ellie engineerEllie, Engineer by Jackson Pearce. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2018.

Ellie and her friends are in middle school but Ellie is in a class of her own. She regards herself as an engineer, she wears a tool belt, designs projects and is always dismantling things or putting things together.

Ellie has a best friend called Kit and school girlfriends, who she calls The Presidents because their first names are all Presidents of USA, I wonder where Jackson Pearce got the idea? She also has boy friends who won’t let her play football with them because she is a girl.

All these friends including the boys are going to assist Ellie to build a doghouse for her friend Kit, in secret mind, for Kit’s birthday. But are they acting on wrong information? Read it and find out.

Ellie is a fine character who understands that “people who are organised are way more efficient than people who aren’t”. But she may be neglecting her people skills.

Do you know what Ding Dong Ditching is? Well the boys do it and they are going to get caught. A good section on tools in the back of the book.

Easy to read in short chapters with big font and a load of laughs. The sequel Ellie Engineer. The next Level is also out now. Great holiday reading for young middle school girls in particular. Get into it.


Maudlin Towers2. Treasure of the Golden Skull by Chris Priestley

December 6, 2018 Comments off

golden skullMaudlin Towers2. Treasure of the Golden Skull by Chris Priestley. Pub. Bloomsbury Childrens Books, 2018.

Cor blimey O’Reilly this is good. Quality writing, crazy plot, even crazier characters, full of humour and wit and so easy to read.

Mildew and Sponge are friends at a run down private school called Maudlin Towers. The opening chapter has one of the spires falling through the headmasters office. Both teachers and pupils are full of gloom about going to the school but feel they have nowhere better to go.

Then the School Board refuse to fund the repairs and the school is rumoured to be closing. How can this change?

Well it is discovered that the founding fathers of the school were pirates led by Greenbeard, captain of the Golden Skull, and the captain’s treasure could be hidden somewhere in the school and environs.

Firstly the school Board, who look and act like pirates, remove all the teaching staff and a new boy called Newboy joins the school. Sponge is walloped on the head and keeps seeing a parrot around the school grounds but his friend Mildew is skeptical “I had a cousin once who thought he could see Charles Dickens. It turned out to be a hatstand. He’s an MP now so be warned.”

The characters are weird. Miss Bronteen pines for a lost love on the moors and Kenningworth is a total rotter out of the top drawer. Then there is Miss Nevermiss!

Superb humour and excellent pen and ink sketches of the characters make this an excellent read for even the most reluctant boy reader. I was fascinated from go to woe and there is a lot of woe.

Intermediate and junior secondary.

Hedgehog Howdedo by Lynley Dodd

December 2, 2018 Comments off

hedgehogHedgehog Howdedo by Lynley Dodd. Pub. Puffin Books, 2018.

All the encounters I have had with hedgehogs have been joyful experiences. I love their eyes, their spines and their demeanor. How great it is to read this new Board book of the picture book first published in 2000.

The hedgehogs are preparing for hibernation and they can be found all over the garden “four are on the compost heap,five beside the shed and six are sweetly snoozing in the Cockleberry bed”. The rhyming text makes it a great read-a-loud.

This board book is also a counting book but it is the illustrations of the hedgehogs that make you go awwww. The facial expressions are a delight.

A great way to start reading and the enjoyment of books for pre schoolers and juniors. Babies can chew to their hearts content.

Ranger’s Apprentice; The Royal Ranger. Duel at Araluen by John Flanagan.

November 28, 2018 Comments off

Royal Ranger. Duel at AraluenRanger’s Apprentice; The Royal Ranger. Duel at Araluen by John Flanagan. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2018


Action writing for Intermediate and Junior Secondary students doesn’t come better than this. Many will have read The Rangers Apprentice series and the Brotherband series and this new series features the characters from both series. As ever it is set in viking like era with sword fights, bowmen and cavalry.

Sir Horace, paramount knight of castle Araluen is trapped with Ranger Gilan in a fort besieged by rebels of the Red Fox Clan, while Cassandra the future queen of Araluen, is trapped in castle Araluen by Dimon, a ruthless rebel who wants to become king. Both groups are safe but need to employ clever tactics to remain safe.

Meanwhile Hal and his crew of the Heron are returning to Araluen after a mission. All three groups will spar with one another in a thrilling finale which has action aplenty.

Much of the talk is about tactics to keep the enemy at bay with Apprentice Ranger Maddie a skillful archer and master of hiding, linking all the groups.

Brilliantly conceived, and written in short chapters that keep the reader in the story. If you know the two series then you will devour this latest addition. The battles are brilliantly described.

Both girls and boys will love it equally. Maddie is astonishing.

There’s a Tui in our Teapot by dawn McMillan, illus. Nikki Slade-Robinson.

November 22, 2018 Comments off

tui teapotThere’s a Tui in our Teapot by dawn McMillan, illus. Nikki Slade-Robinson. Pub. Oratia Books, 2018.

This is a bilingual English-Maori picture book about New Zealand birds told and illustrated with a sense of humour.

When Tui, Takahe, Kakapo, Pukeko and other birds invite themselves to breakfast at Nan’s, the mess they make is troublesome. What will Nan say when she wakes up? Check this lively picture book out and see.

The illustrations emphasise the fun and introduce us to Tui Tea, Takahe Tamarillo Jam, Kakapo Kornies and Pukeko Penne Pasta amongst others. I do fancy the tamarillo jam.

In the back is a small profile of each of the birds featured and of course the bilingual text helps with learning the Maori language.

The Ice Monster by David Walliams, illus. Tony Ross.

November 21, 2018 Comments off

ice monsterThe Ice Monster by David Walliams, illus. Tony Ross. Pub. HarperCollins, 2018.

The Telegraph said of David Walliams -” Dahl finally has a worthy successor”. They are right of course and this latest novel has all the craziness and brilliance of his earlier novels.

It is the story of Elsie, an orphan who has escaped from a cruel orphanage in the year 1899 when Victoria was on the throne. She lives on the streets while the wealthy live extravagant but ignorant lives. Anti poverty is a consistent theme of David Walliams.

Elsie learns that a woolly mammoth has been found frozen in a block of ice and is being taken to the Natural History Museum in London. With the help of a crazy professor who has invented a lightning-catching thingammyjig, and a cleaning maid Dotty, she revives the baby mammoth and escapes to the Chelsea Pensioners a group of doddery old ex soldiers and naval officers.

They plot to return the mammoth to the North Pole using Lord Nelsons old ship the HMS Victory. Will they succeed? Read this rollicking hilarious adventure and find out.

Full of toilet humour and bottom explosions this will get the most reluctant of readers interested. Elsie is a wonderful heroine and role model and Dotty a true friend.

Tony Ross’s illustrations as always are superb. Easy to read with a variety of fonts. Plenty of scope for those who like to read aloud and can do bottom explosion noises.

For children from 5-12 and anybody brave enough to try it.

TITAN The Truck by Joy H. Davidson, illus. Scott Tulloch.

November 11, 2018 Comments off

titanTITAN The Truck by Joy H. Davidson, illus. Scott Tulloch. Pub. DHD Publishing, 2018.

Big trucks are on the road. They are big and strong and must get to where they are going cos ‘the load can’t be late’.

A picture book about trucks that is sure to be popular with boys. Ever wondered who cleans up when a truck spills it’s load on the road and crashes? You will find out because the truckie in this story swerves to avoid a cow and catastrophe.

Check it out and see what happens.

A good read-a-loud and plenty to mull over. Titan the truck is magnificent and he can carry everything from logs to groceries. Scott Tulloch’s illustrations are superb.