Getting Serious about Series # 4 – Ripper Reads for Girls

Lola's Toybox Patchwork PicnicI don’t usually like to categorise reads into which gender they might appeal to better. I believe every child is individual and will find a story to fit their unique reading tastes no matter how pink the cover or how boyish the hero. To say that boys should be directed to sports orientated titles and little girls to books about bunnies is pre-historic thinking and infers we (little girls) don’t like puppy dogs’ tails and snails. Simply not true! However, there can be no denying that certain reads will attract certain readers more powerfully than others. This luscious collection of chapter books and mid-graders will undoubtedly appeal to the sweet-toothed predilections of little misses given they are choking with cuteness and gee gees and unicorns.

Lola’s Toy Box by Danny Parker Illustrated by Guy Shield

This is a perfectly placed first-time-chapter-book series for little readers just putting their A B Cs together. These books provide useful stepping-stones in Lola's Toybox On Story Seathe crossover from readers to more exciting chapter books, each with a softly delivered message and each peppered with adventure. Anyone with an animated imagination and insatiable love for their toys will adore Lola’s Toy Box series. Lola and her toy clown Buddy, chance upon a portal – an old toy box, which transports them time after time to the varied lands of The Kingdom where they experience toy-filled adventures beyond their wildest dreams.

The Patchwork Picnic is the first of this series so far. Other exciting toy-land destinations include The Plastic Palace, On the Story Sea, and The Treasure Trove. The Timberfield Talent Show is the very latest release. Wild and whimsical, just what five to seven-year-old emerging readers need.

Hardie Grant Egmont 2015 – February 2016

Pine Valley Ponies The Forbidden TrailPine Valley Ponies by Kate Welshman Illustrated by Heath McKenzie

Pint-sized people from six years of age who love ponies, have ponies, ride ponies or want to ride ponies will fall over themselves with this new pony series. McKenzie’s tummy tickling drawings  (his horse characters are darling!) ably romp alongside short, easy-to-read chapters about Maddy and her pony, Snowy and their induction into the Pine Valley Riding ranch.

It’s not all smooth cantering for Maddy however, as she attempts to fit in amongst the fancy-pantsed, equine experienced girls of her class. However, the call of adventure soon overrides difficulties and cements her love of Pine Valley Ponies The Pony Showhorse riding, as it will for those absorbed in her antics. Start with The Forbidden Trail and move onto The Runaway Foal then prepare yourself for The Pony Show.

There is much for horse-orientated kids to love here, from the bright pastel and foil covers, enticing page layouts, pony profiles, nifty horsey Q & A and loads more besides. Well recommended.

Scholastic Press October 2015 – March 2016

Ruby Wishfingers illoRuby Wishfingers by Deborah Kelly Illustrated by Leigh Hedstrom

Ruby Wishfingers is an absolute crack up of a series. I loved the first instalment, Skydancer’s Escape and can’t wait to get into Toady-ally Magic. Suitable for slightly older primary aged readers, this tantalising new series still features terrific line drawings and easy to digest chapters but it’s the humour infused story line, flavoured with more than a hint of magic that truly makes Ruby irresistible.

Ruby Wishfingers Toadlly MagicShe’s your run of the mill ordinary girl with a peculiar name who one day awakens with a weird tingling sensation in her fingertips. She soon realises it’s a force to be reckoned with and that you should be careful what you wish for.

Loaded with lovable characters, talking pocket-sized unicorns, indignant felines, jellybean rain and magic, Ruby Wishfingers books will not disappoint those who love adventure and fast zany reads. My pick of the crop.

Wombat Books March 2016

Keeper of the Crystals Runaway UnicornKeeper of the Crystals by Jess Black Illustrated by Celeste Hulme

The things you’ll notice first about this adventure fantasy series are the brilliant covers and sparkly titles. Each of this four part series about Eve and her unlikely companion, Oscar lures young readers in like fish to wriggling worms. It begins when the pair unwittingly unleash the power of the crystals after they open a forbidden wooden box in Eve’s Nan’s attic.

The initial crystal is of a small unicorn, which is a portal into a mysterious fantastical far away land, Panthor. Suggestions of environmental instability and political oppression in each of the strange new worlds Eve and Oscar are transported to resonate throughout these tales albeit all disguised with action, myth, and fantasy for the young reader.

Keeper of the Crystal Eve and the Last DragonAn attractive series that would suit readers seven years and above and those with a penchant for the surreal.

New Frontier Publishing June 2015 – March 2016

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Review – Amy and the Wilpenea Flood An Australian Girl adventure

A sweeping yet generally accurate observation of girls aged up to 12 years or so, is that most love dolls, of some descript. In this age of zombie mutant, bloodsucking teenage wannabes, these aren’t necessarily the ubiquitous Barbie dolls or sleepy-eyed baby dolls either. Just about any recognisable, eye-catching, radically dressed, personality driven figurine will do the trick these days.

The crucial part is ensuring that the insane desire young girls develop for a particular doll or collection is born from an age appropriate and culturally enriching source. Not just as another clever marketing spinoff from the latest TV show.

Australian Girl dollsThis is where Australian Girl dolls, created by Helen Schofield, step in. Five doll characters, each with their own distinct personalities and backgrounds, aim to encourage imaginative, age relevant play. Chances are your daughter (or son) knows or is friendly with someone of a similar ethnic background as those of the dolls; such is the rich cultural diversity of our modern Australian society. Perhaps they can identify parts of themselves with their favourite doll. The exciting thing about the Australian Girl dolls is that now, thanks to Wombat Books, they have been brought to life through a new series of adventure based books.

Amy and the Wilpena Pound Amy and the Wilpena Flood, by Claudia Bouma, is the second in the series (there is a third soon to be released) which features all five heroines but lightly focuses on one particular girl as the catalyst or driving force of each story.

The premise is simple: five girls form a deep, do-or-die-for friendship and discover a powerful talisman in the shape of a rainbow necklace. With the aid of this magical charm they are able to time-slip throughout Australia’s past, which inevitability enables them to solve the dilemmas that they chance upon, like missing turtles for instance.

This time, it’s Amy’s turn. After she finds a mysterious map, she and her friends transport back in time to Wilpena Pound in South Australia. From the moment they arrive, it’s a race to save not only Jessie and her family, whom they encounter there, but also themselves from an unexpected catastrophic flood.

Amy Comic strip

Claudia BoumaClaudia Bouma manages to entertain us with an on-the-edge of your seat drama and catchy modern characters, in an upbeat introduction to our inimitable Aussie geography and history. The bold black and white illustrations of Emily, Amy, Matilda, Annabelle and Jasmine sprinkled throughout this chapter book by cartoonist, Jason Chatfield (aka the current Ginger Meggs), left me lingering over it long after the flood waters of Wilpena Pound had receded.

Jason Chatfield

Packed with true blue Aussie spirit and solid reference to the favourable merits of friendship, courage and perseverance, Amy and the Wilpena Flood is a treat to read. And one you don’t have to be a girl or lover of dolls to appreciate either.

Great for primary school aged children.

View and purchase this book here.

Wombat Books August 2013

 

Review – Alice and the Airy Fairy

Alice and the Airy FairyThe rapidly expanding Little Rocket Series more than satisfies the insatiable reading appetites of confident readers, dishing up enticing junior fiction that most notably snags the fickle attention spans of boys. Alice and the Airy Fairy, the latest in the series, has a decidedly more girly flavour.

Packed with pretty pink girl appeal, the Airy Fairy is more than a whimsical tale about fairies. It’s a story steeped in sensitivity, family relationships and the power of believing.

Alice’s second cousin, Mary, is coming to stay with them. Mary is a little eccentric and a touch mystical. She plays the flute in the middle of the night and prefers to sleep out in her ‘old blue campervan’. All of which Alice’s Dad sums up as being an ‘airy fairy’.

Alice is entranced by Mary’s presence and being a great believer in fairies herself, tries very hard to get Mary to divulge more of her ‘fairy-ness’. But the deeper she and her best friend Zoe, delve, the more inconsistencies they discover, including the revelation that all is not well in Mary’s world. She is sadder than a fairy ought to be for one; evident in her wrenching paintings, her droopy wings and her pensive music. And she can’t even remember where she left her magic wand.

BlobsAs the lines between fairy-dom and reality become as increasingly blurred and misshapen as one of Mary’s blue blob paintings, Alice and Zoe attempt to get to the bottom of Mary’s malaise and missing wand. The wand is eventually found but no amount of magical incantations issued by them is able to release its magic.

Frustrated but not defeated, Alice convinces her father to transport a selection of Mary’s abstract paintings to the Art Gallery where she was due to exhibit them. Mary is unable to do so herself because of an unplanned visit to the hospital.

In a comical turn of events, Mary’s paintings prove so popular the gallery curator asks for more to sell, which Dad dubiously concedes to. Only the first set of paintings weren’t actually Mary’s. They were the mistakenly delivered, genius brushstrokes of Bonnie, Alice’s baby sister.

But it’s not art that saves the day or even stubborn magic. It’s Alice’s unshakeable belief in Mary that finally enables her to refocus on where her true worth and value lies.

I love how Alice’s naively bejewelled determination is able to cut through diversity and adult opinion to help someone she genuinely believes in.

Margaret ClarkVeteran children’s writer Margaret Clark has created an enchanting story that encourages young readers to question everyday norms. She sprinkles just enough speculation throughout each short, easy to read chapter to ensure Alice and the Airy Fairy is as easy to love as fairy dust but is still one hundred per cent plausible, while sending a gentle reminder for us to be kind to and aware of each other.

Emma Stuart Emma Stuart’s touching illustrations add even more colour and joy to an already joyful read. And in case you are ever in the need of one; there are even instructions on how to make a magic wand. Fantabulous!

Whether you’re into fairies and Kombis (and who isn’t?) or not, Alice and the Airy Fairy is sure to charm the wings off you, especially if you are 7 – 10 years old.

Little Rockets by New Frontier Publishing July 2013