Book Reviews and Recommendations
Book Reviews & Recommendations

Bureau of Mysteries and the Mechanomancers
Reviewed by: Ben Hancock

Author:  HJ Harper
Publisher: Random House

What is the book about?
It’s a battle Inspector Imp and his investigators have with the Mechanomancers. They experience adventures and puzzles to help along the way to solve the mystery.

What part did you like best?
The best part I liked was how Imp Inspector had a hunch about Tinkerton and was told he was wrong, but later was proven right.

What age range do you think would enjoy reading this book?
9years and above.

The book has some codes and puzzles throughout it. Did you complete them?
I attempted all codes but did not complete all of them. It is ok if you don’t do all of the codes and it did not interfere with the story.

Did you learn anything interesting while reading this book? If so, give us an example.
There were some words and terms that I haven’t heard of before, like Bureau. So that was good to learn some new things.

This book is number 2 in a series. Do you think it matters if you haven’t read Book 1 first?
Not really.  This book explains the basics of characters that were in the first book.

If you could ask the author a question about the book what would it be?
Would you be interested in writing a 3rd book?

For more information please go to:



Dance Like A Pirate
Reviewed by Isabelle (Age 5)

Author: Stephanie Owen Reeder
Publisher: National Library Australia

It’s time to get active! Who wants to dance like a pirate, tiptoe like a fairy, run like a firefighter or pose like a superhero? And who could resist creeping like a witch, leaping like a ballet dancer, marching like a sailor or stomping like a dragon?

This book is about different boys and girls doing different movements with their body. Like jigging across the deck like a pirate and leaping about like a ballerina.

The part I liked best was the mermaid part because I like mermaids and I like to sway like a mermaid.

I think the age range for this book is 5,6 and 7.

I give it a 10/10.

For more information see


Arkie Sparkle, Treasure Hunter
Reviewed by: Emilia (Age 9)
Author: Petra James
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia

This book is about an 11 year old girl called Arkie Sparkle and her wicked uncle Sebastian. Sebastian has kidnapped Arkie’s parents! So Arkie, TJ and their very smart dog Cleo head out to Antarctica for a game and if they win the game Sebastian will tell them where Arkie’s parents are.

The part I liked best was when Clem stood up to his father Sebastian and helped Arkie find her parents.

I think the age range for this book is nines or tens.

I liked the book because there were so many interesting challenges that I liked.

Some of the pictures that I imagined didn’t really look the same in the book.

I might read more books by this author because of the adventures they have in this book.

I would give this book an 8 out of 10.

For more information see the Arkie Sparkle series by clicking here.


Caesar - The War Dog
Reviewed by: Ben Hancock (Age 11)
Author: Stephen Dando-Collins
Publisher: Random House

This hero has four paws and a wagging tail! Based on the true stories of heroic military and service dogs who save countless lives.

At the kennels, Caesar the chocolate labrador doesn't look special. But Corporal Ben Fulton sees something different - an intelligent dog whose curiosity will make him an excellent sniffer dog in the Australian Army.

On operations in Afghanistan with Ben, Caesar proves his worth, finding hidden explosives and saving the lives of the soldiers. Then, during a Taliban ambush, Caesar is separated from his master. Ben and his best mate Charlie are seriously wounded and evacuated to hospital.

What is the book about?
It is about the Secretary General of the United Nations being captured by the Taliban. Caesar, Ben Fulton (Caesar’s Handler) and Charlie Grover try to rescue him.

What do you like best about the book?
The main characters, Caesar and Ben were Australian.  I liked this as I felt I could connect with them in the way they spoke.  I was able to imagine myself right there with them.

What age range do you think is best suited to this book?
10 years and up.

Did you think it was a good length?

Did you keep interested right to the end?
Yes. It kept me reading all night ( …mum and dad did not know, they thought it was asleep).

Would you read more books by this author?
I definitely would without a doubt.

If you could ask the author a question about the book what would it be?
How long did it take you to write the book and get it published?

For more information see


View from the 32nd Floor
Reviewed by: Sally Hall
Author: Emma Cameron
Publisher: Walker Books

Something special has been gifted to you. Join your neighbours, Saturday, 6.00 pm, on the roof. Living on the thirty-second floor of an apartment block, William has a clear view of the building opposite. He sees his neighbours eating ice-cream, watering potted palms, painting pictures ... or as shadows behind closed curtains. Shadows worry William. With his new friend Rebecca, and helped by lots of cake, a dictionary of names, tai chi, and banana-shaped sticky notes, he plans to tempt his lonely neighbours back into the world. Can they succeed?

William lives in an inner city apartment block where most of the residents don't even know each others names. William thinks that should change. He uses his binoculars to 'check' on the residents of the apartments directly opposite and becomes concerned about quite a few of his neighbours.

William is an unusual boy who likes to change his name everyday but when he meets Rebecca, a girl who is similar in age with a funny walk he decides that they will get to know all of their neighbours and hatch a plan that will bring them all together. Even Mrs Stavros, an elderly Greek lady who never leaves her apartment.

This is a touching story of friendship, community and the importance of making people feel connected to one another.

So how about next time you see a neighbour or a lonely looking soul in your local shopping centre you strike up a conversation. You might be the only person that spoke to them all day and your kidness could make all the difference.

You could win a copy of View from the 32nd Floor by entering our Book Pack Competition. Click here for more info.

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The Simple Things
Reviewed by: Emma Cameron (author and editor)
Author: Bill Condon
Publisher: Allen and Unwin

I’ve never been disappointed by Bill Condon’s creations and his latest work is no exception. I felt like a privileged fly in the wall as I watched the interaction between the delightful characters in this tender story about life, friendship and caring.

Shy, ten-year-old Steven, Mum and Dad travel a whole day to stay with Great Aunt Lola for three weeks. Except for having received Lola’s love and ten dollars in a card every Christmas and birthday, Steven doesn’t know her. He quickly discovers that the almost eighty-year-old is often gruff and grumpy and he expresses a wish to go home sooner than planned.

Mum and Dad tell him to give it time. Lola’s not a bad person. She’s just aged, alone, very set in her ways. What they don’t say, but what the story shows, is that she’s reflecting back on life and this affects her mood. Her thoughts on what she believes is appropriate are something she thrusts onto Steven without any hesitation.

Steve’s not a bad kid, but he feels less than good when Lola corrects his poor speech habits and judges his behaviour. Luckily, he’s a gently persistent soul, whose curiosity gets the better of him. He’s not afraid to ask Lola questions and she’s not rude, so answers them. Most of the time. Steven soon forgets about wanting to go home.

Working their way through the awkwardness between each other, Steven learns how to fit into Lola’s world and she allows him into hers. She lets him join her in her shed where she works on projects and she shows him the family history book she’s been putting together. They both have more in common than they first thought and she then trusts Steven with a special secret.

Feeling uncertain about each other like Lola and Steven initially do is a situation many readers, young and old, will easily relate to. It’s amazing to see how the experiences of both growing up and growing old can have such a cross over. Friendship is powerful and besides bringing new experiences into people’s lives it can help heal old hurts.

Condon’s characters are completely believable and I was pleased to see how they managed to make the most of whatever chances life offered. Never taking the simple things for granted wasn’t ever touted as a message, but readers of any age are sure to feel the saying’s meaning once they read this warm and gentle story.

For more information see:


10 Bush Babies
Reviewed by: Sally Hall
Author: Susan Hall
Illustrator: Naomi Zouwer
Publisher: National Library of Australia

10 Bush Babies is a very cute board book for toddlers. The ten bush babies include a baby wombat, koala, echidna, possum, bilby, platypus, quoll, emu, kangaroo and dingo.

With every page one of the baby animals fails to come back to Mrs Roo (their teacher) and children are asked to name which animal is 'missing' from the illustration. It is a fantastic way to engage very young children in the story.

Of course there's a happy ending when all the baby animals are found. There is also a summary page at the very back which explains where the animals were e.g. 'Baby platypus went for a swim'.

Made of high quality thick cardboard this book will survive the many times it will be read and re-read and will introduce your child to the gorgeous Australian bush animals.

For more information see the National Library of Australia website by clicking here.


The Big Book of Australian History
Reviewed by: Mrs Kerry Rae (Teacher Librarian)
Author: Peter Macinnis
Publisher: National Library of Australia

This is an excellent resource that every school library and home should have. It gives a general introduction to Australian history with topics ranging from Ancient Australia to discovery of Australia, settlement, Aboriginal peoples, sporting life, Federation, Anzacs, natural disasters, multiculturalism and much more.  

The book is extremely well set out, well researched and written and well illustrated. The use of headings and sub-headings is great to see as all books should follow this format. It is obvious that Teacher Librarians were consulted in the layout of the book because the information is easy to access and understand. It is not an in-depth study but covers information that students need to know about Australia’s history in broad terms so it is extremely useful for primary aged students and even lower high school students. The information is accurate unlike many websites today that many students rely upon.

Illustrations throughout are provided by the National Library of Australia and the use of colour adds to its appeal. The chapters have a coloured band at the top of the pages which makes it easy to see their start and finish. There is important information spread throughout the book on notepaper which draws the attention of the reader.

It is a hard cover book which is excellent for durability and it is up-to-date, being published in 2013. There is a link for teachers’ notes which is also a bonus.

Overall, I loved this book. Congratulations to all concerned.

For more information see: or


What the Raven Saw
Reviewed by: Mrs Kerry Rae (Teacher/Librarian)

Author: Samantha-Ellen Bound
Publisher: Woolshed Press (Random House)

This is a very interesting novel which has been well written and the storyline is excellent. The cover and internal artwork by Tony Flowers are exceptional with the cover having instant appeal. The story is about a raven that can talk and his friendships with unlikely characters, such as a scarecrow, a pigeon, a weatherhen, a priest and several dead people. The story is told through the raven’s eyes, an unlikely hero in the end.

During the story, the character of the raven evolves and the reader feels empathy for him after initially finding him a little strange. He is full of pride in himself and his surroundings which leads to a few problems and he meets many interesting characters along the way.

In the end we are left feeling sorry for him after several events and he reveals why he is such a proud bird. Sitting high up and flying allows him to see many things and although he wants to be left alone, he can’t help himself when help is needed. He talks selectively to other characters but not everyone as we all know that birds can’t talk. I particularly liked the character of the pigeon who speaks in mixed metaphors, though the raven doesn’t particularly like him. The raven has a treasure trove that is secret but in the end, is that important?

I really enjoyed this book and I’m sure students would find it an interesting read. There are many thought-provoking moments in the book which makes it enjoyable.

I think that this book would appeal to students ranging in age from about 9 to 14, although reading it as an adult, I think that it may appeal to a wider audience. Teachers’ resources are available on-line and I think that this book would make an excellent text book for junior high school students.

For a FREE chapter:

For more info see


Australia’s Greatest Inventions & Innovations
Reviewed by: Mrs. Kerry Rae (Teacher Librarian)

Authors: Christopher Cheng And Linsay Knight
Contributors: Powerhouse Museum
Random House Australia

We all know about some unique Australian inventions such as Vegemite and the Hills hoist but do we know the inventor, when it was invented, why is was invented and the workings of the inventions? This book provides this information in an easy to understand way that produces some interesting facts. But it also includes many other inventions that people may not realise are Australian such as Wi-Fi, Spray-on skin, the Staysharp knife, duel-flushing toilets, plastic banknotes and the black-box flight recorder.

I loved this book as it highlights the successful work of many Australians in many different fields. It brings together information about the inventions, the need for the invention, the inventors and the workings of the invention. It is full of colourful pictures and information about each of the inventions and is well set out with coloured headings and easy to read information. Each chapter begins with a problem then goes on to explain how the invention overcame this problem.

The format of the book is excellent as it is set out in the field of invention, such as, in the Communications and IT field, the inventions include the Cochlear Implant, Mountbatten Brailler, Wi-Fi and Automatic totalisator. Other fields include Health, Household and office, Transport and Leisure.

The book was produced in conjunction with the Powerhouse museum, where many of the inventions are on display for all to see. It gives an insight into Australia’s history and displays the creative ability of many Australian people.

This book can be read and enjoyed by any ages as the terminology is not complicated. An excellent read!

For more information

Abel Tasman

My father's islands: Abel Tasman's Heroic Voyages
Reviewed by: Ms Kerry Rae (Teacher Librarian)

Author: Christobel Mattingley
Publisher: National Library of Australia

This is a very good book with an interesting story to tell that is historically correct based on actual journals, maps and illustrations. It tells the story of Abel Tasman – his life and his sea voyages, as told by his daughter, Claesgen.  It is set in the 1640’s and explains in great detail what the voyages were like for her father, Abel Tasman. It is presented in a different way and I believe that this adds to its appeal.

My husband is not an avid reader but when he saw the book and read the blurb on the back, he asked to read it which is unusual. He liked the book and would recommend it. As it says on the back, anyone from  9 to 90 would enjoy it and I believe that this is the case. It has universal appeal for both boys and girls but I would probably recommend it to boys as it contains nautical themes and accounts of voyages.

One thing I didn’t like about the book was the continual use of footnotes at the end of each page. I appreciate that some terms need an explanation but I would rather have this done throughout the text, either in brackets or with commas. The fact that I had to continually read the footnotes made the story not flow for me. I understand that many of the terms were unknown and therefore needed an explanation but I didn’t like how it was done.

An extremely well written book which provided many insights into what life was like for adventurers in the past and told in a way that was interesting and unusual. I would highly recommend this book.

Tareget audience– For ages 9 and over.

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Reviewed by Hannah Diviney (Age 13)

Author: Libby Gleeson
Publisher: Allen & Unwin

A massive cyclone has just devastated Sydney. Lives have been torn apart. The main character, a young girl wakes up amidst debris and confusion. Injured, this girl can’t remember a thing about her life. The only thing in her head is a name – Jay Martin. 

Luckily, a young homeless boy named Peri rescues her and when she fails to provide him with personal information, he christens her Red after the colour of her t-shirt. Together Peri & Red must navigate the chaos of Sydney and figure who out  she is, what Jay Martin has to do with anything and what’s in the locket Red wears around her neck.

The first thing that I noticed about Red was the cover design. The brightness of the title and her hair against the darkness was shocking. This was a great visual technique and drew me in straight away.

The first word of the story was mud with a capital letter. This piqued my interest and I instantly wanted to know more. Throughout the story, I was constantly imagining myself in this situation which is a great skill that Gleeson has. Just like Red & Peri, I was trying to fit the puzzle together and was shocked at some of the twists in this story.

My favorite character would have to be Red. She goes through such a journey of self discovery and even when her life is in tatters, she rises to every challenge thrown at her.

This book does not shy away from the harsh nature of a natural disaster and has some high action twists so I would recommend 11 and up. This book is a little confronting but I found it interesting and intriguing. There is not any really scary content that is thoroughly explored.

I would rate this 9/10 and I would recommend this book to my school library as I think the storyline would appeal to a broad audience. 

For more information see or

Forgotten Pearl

The Forgotten Pearl
Reviewed by: Ms Kerry Rae (Teacher Librarian)

Author: Belinda Murrell
Publisher: Random House

The story begins with a girl named Chloe who visits her grandmother, Poppy, and they talk about Chloe’s History assignment. She needs to interview a friend or relative about their experiences during the Second World War and how it affected their lives. Chloe did not expect that the War affected her grandmother because she was in Australia at the time but she finds out about her grandmothers’ experiences of living in Darwin during the war, including being caught up in the bombing, and how it affected her and her family. Together they search through old letters and photos that bring back memories of Poppy’s life during this time.

The book gives a very detailed account of actual events and the dates that they occurred. It is a fiction story of Poppy and her family explaining the bombing of Darwin and how she fled to Sydney only to be affected by events there also. It’s told from her grandmothers’ point of view – about her family, friends and neighbours and how her life was altered by the events.  A pearl is given to Poppy for a heroic deed and accidently lost during the bombings. Will it re-appear or be lost forever?

I found this story historically accurate and I found my own knowledge seriously lacking about what took place on home soil during the War. I found the story enlightening and quite enjoyable. I think that students with a keen interest in History would find this fascinating. Both boys and girls would find the story interesting. It is certainly a change from your normal account of historical events and it personalises the story - it includes letters written between the characters in the story.

The target age is primary school students but I think that lower secondary students would also enjoy this story. An enjoyable, easy read.

For more information please see or

Alice Miranda in Paris

Alice Miranda in Paris
Reviewed by Paris Raphael (age 10)

Author: Jacqueline Harvey
Publisher: Random House

What is the Book about?
Alice Miranda goes to Paris to sing with Fayle School for boys in the fashion show.  Days before the fashion show Christian Fontaine (the fashion designer) has his expensive fabric stolen. It's up to Alice and her friends to solve the mystery of who stole the fabrics. 

What did you like best about the book?
I liked it when Alice met the fashion designer and she was exploring around the place and she sees all the pretty dresses for the fashion show.  I also liked the adventure they had solving the mystery of the missing fabric.

What age range do you think is best suited to this book?
9-11 years.

Did you think it was a good length?

Did it keep you interested right to the end?
Yes it did.

Would you read more books by this author?

For more information & the chance to read a free sample of this book see:

7 Year Olds

Stories for 7 Year Olds
Reviewed by Aidan Raphael (Age 7)

Authors: There are many including Morris Gleitzman, Jacqueline Harvey, Paul Jennings
Publisher: Random House

A collection of fun, short stories chosen especially for 7 year old readers by some of Australia's best authors. These books would make great gifts and are perfect for night time reading. Also available in the series are books for 5, 6 and 8 year olds.

What is the Book about? The book is some 7 year olds kids telling stories about things that happen to them

What did you like best about the book? It is a collection of different interesting stories there are different characters.  Some of the stories were really funny.

What age range do you think is best suited to this book? 6-8 year olds

Did you think it was a good length? Yes

Did it keep you interested right to the end? Yes it did because they were different stories

Would you read more books by this author? Yes

What would you give this book out of 10?   10/10

For more information see the Random House website

Nanny Piggins Rescue

Nanny Piggins and the Daring Rescue
Reviewed by Paris Raphael (Age 10)

Author: R.A Spratt
Publisher: Random House

What is the Book about?
The book is about a very intelligent pig and her grandkids. They try to save their favourite TV show called the Young and the Irritable. They have to make up a whole new script for the show because all the writers stormed out of the building the producers had made smaller. And let’s just say nanny piggins put as much cake eating in their script than Man vS Food.

What did you like best about the book?
 I did not have a favourite part because I loved this book, it is one of the best books I have read so far.

What age range do you think is best suited to this book? 9+

Did you think it was a good length? Yes

Did it keep you interested right to the end? Yes

Would you read more books by this author? Yes

What would you give this book out of 10? 10 out of 10

For more information please see


Mort the 10,000-year-old boy
Reviewed by Paris Raphael (Age 10)

Author: Martin Chatterton
Publisher: Random House

What is the Book about?
The book is about a 10,000 year old boy named Mortimer DeVere and his sister Agnetha. They live on a deserted island that looks like an opened coffin with its top missing. It is called Unk island. Mort and Agnetha have a hard time with their parents. They are on their 300 year holiday the “short” holiday.  The problem is the two school keepers named Trish and Nigel who try two send them to school. So, it is up to Mort and Agnetha to stop Trish and Nigel from forcing them and all the other kids to go to school.

What did you like best about the book?
The bit I liked best about the book was when Agnetha was about to Kill Mort for stealing one of her clones (yes they do make clones of famous people quite surprising).

What age range do you think is best suited to this book? 9 to13

Did you think it was a good length? Yes

Did it keep you interested right to the end? Yes

Would you read more books by this author? Yes

What would you give this book out of 10?  9 out of 10

For more information please see:

Boo and the big storm

Boo and the big storm
Reviewed by Sally Hall

Author: Wendy Lawrence
Illustrations: Glen Vause
Publisher: Wild Publishing

Boo and the big storm tells a story of lost, found, family and belonging. During a frigtening storm Boo and her brothers huddle in their nest, awaiting their parents return. A huge noise startles the trio. What was that?

Boo, the boldest, and the oldest, leaned out of the hollow to find out.

When Boo falls from the nest the real adventure begins. Will Boo find her way back to her family?

Boo is a Southern Boobook owlet. The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous and compliment the simple text perfectly. Children will no doubt be drawn into the story from the absolute beginning as they follow Boo's adventure, but rest assured she is eventually safely returned to her home.

This is a quality picture book and the boobook owlets are a simply adorable subject matter.

I appreciated the inclusion of information at the end of the book regarding the Southern Boobook owlet and their habitats, diet and threats. This additional information encourages discussion about the real life owls and helps parents answer any questions children might have.

A paperback version will also be available from February. For more information please see

Nobody's Boy

Nobody’s Boy
Reviewed by Emma Cameron

Author: Di Bates
Publisher: Celapene Press

When Ron first introduces himself to readers they immediately see that he has a good sense of humour, which is just as well because his life is complicated. His mum is an addict and Ron’s been moved around a lot. Eight schools before reaching the age of ten. Ron’s one simple wish is to live with his dad, yet he never says it aloud.

Dad’s wife Anna doesn’t want Ron around and that sees poor Ron shoved between carers, over and over again. Though he tries to be polite and do the right thing, swallowing his anger and the words he wishes to let out, Ron can’t win. Until he is finally placed in foster care with Rosie and Bob. It is there that firm but caring boundaries are set, laying the foundation for positive change.

From this point, Ron is able to make firmer friendships and settle into school. As well as providing a warm and comforting home Rosie and Bob patiently help Ron with things he was missing out on, like learning to ride bikes and how to read. Ironically, the sad truth is that their wonderful support nurtures him to a point where he can finally say what it is he wants and they must let him go.

The book’s target audience is primary school aged readers and the verse format lends itself well to this audience. Much care has been taken so as to give enough of a picture of Ron’s life without making young readers too fearful of the darker elements of it. In fact, the darkness in Ron’s life is so strongly overshadowed by Rosie and Bob’s actions that readers will be left uplifted.

Having said this, however, I would stress that the novel should not be limited to younger readers. I believe that the older a reader is the more likely they are to truly appreciate how well the story brings complexities about life and relationships into focus. It shows how human nature has the potential to be its own worst enemy but also how it can be its greatest saviour, thereby providing readers with an excellent platform from which to ponder these issues.

For more information check out this website

Miss Understood

Miss Understood
Reviewed by Paris Raphael (Age 10)

Author: James Roy
Publisher: Random House

Lizzie doesn't mean to do the wrong thing . . . she's just misunderstood.

Lizzie has a history of misunderstandings, but the latest one is bad enough to get her expelled from Our Lady of the Sacred Wimple College. So now she's going to be homeschooled.

What is the Book about?
The book is about a girl called Lizzie who gets suspended from her school after setting something on fire by accident.  While Lizzie and her family try to convince the school to let her to come back she has to be home schooled and misses all her friends and feels really lonely. 

What did you like best about the book?
What I liked best was when Lizzie forgot to take out the garbage and she had to run out to catch the truck. She was too late and just swapped the bins with someone elses.

What age range do you think is best suited to this book?
9 to 12. It’s a fun read.

Did you think it was a good length?

Did it keep you interested right to the end?
Yes it did because it was a fun read and I enjoyed it a lot.

Would you read more books by this author?
Yes if they are as fun as this one.

Summary:  What would you give this book out of 10?  Any other comments?
10.5/10 It was great and ever since I’ve read it I have been extra good at school and making sure I don’t play with fire.

For more information see

Caesar the war dog

Caesar : The war dog
Reviewer: Mrs. Kerry Rae – Teacher Librarian. Lake Illawarra High School.

Author: Stephen Dando-Collins
Publisher: Random House Australia
Target audience : For Primary school age.  Suggested age : 10 – 14 years.

This novel is based on a combination of true stories involving 3 different Army Explosive Detection Dogs. It is a stand-alone book and is not part of a series.

Corporal Ben Fulton selected Caesar from Huntington kennels when he came to look for a new dog to train to become an Australian Army Explosives Detection Dog. Ben was warned not to select Caesar as he was mischievous but Ben took a liking to him and took him home to meet the family.

Caesar became well -trained and proved his worth, passing his training with flying colours. He proved to be invaluable to Ben and the Army so much so that he was selected to go to Afghanistan to work with the Australian forces in that country.  He quickly became well-liked and useful, sniffing out explosives which saved lives.

Together the pair went on a dangerous mission where they were ambushed by the Taliban; both ended up injured and they became separated. Ben was sent home to Australia to recover but Caesar was left to fend for himself in a very hostile country.
Will Caesar find Ben again and make it back to Australia or will he be left in Afghanistan?

I found this book very appealing and I think that it would be very suitable for students between the ages of 9 and 14. For students that like animals, they would find this an interesting read. As the family in the story is based in Holsworthy at the Army base, I think that the students that live there would be fascinated. Caesar is a very likeable dog yet has a curious nature that the students would find exciting. It has suspense, intrigue, warmth and humour and it has a very believable storyline.

I particularly liked the Fact File at the back of the book which tells the true story of the 3 dogs that the book is based on as well as factual information about Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan. Students would find the explanation useful and relevant to the story, providing facts in a manner that they would understand.

Overall, a good read.

Alice Miranda

Alice Miranda shows the way
Reviewer: Paris Raphael (age 10)

Author: Jacqueline Harvey
Publisher: Random house

What is the Book about?
The book is about a girl named Alice Miranda and she helps everyone get ready for the Winchester field annual show (known as a horse race).

What did you like best about the book?
My favourite part was when at the beginning Alice Miranda gets surprised for her birthday by the whole boarding school.

Do you think you need to read the other Alice Miranda books or is it a good story on its own?
I think it’s a good story on its own.

What age range do you think is best suited to this book?
7 and above.

Did you think it was a good length?

Did it keep you interested right to the end?

What adventure do you think Alice Miranda should have in the next book?
She should be going on a holiday to the beach and get stranded on a deserted island.

Would you read more books by this author?

What would you give this book out of 10? 
7 and a half out of 10.


RSPCA Animal Tales Series
Random House Australia

The Million Paws Puppy by Chris Kunz
Reviewer: Kye Hall (age 8)

This book is about a dog called Maxie, training dogs and the Million Paws walk. When the owner takes Maxie on the Million Paws walk she doesn’t have a proper lead instead just using a ribbon. When the dog gets lost in the walk and the RSPCA workers try to find him.

RSPCA books are a good book to read to learn how to take care of your pets. If you have an untrained pet it is a good idea to read one it is also just a good story. Next time you have to read a book, consider reading one of them.

If I had to rate this book out of ten I would give it seven because it is a really interesting  book. The best age for readers would probably be from six to ten years old. It was an appropriate size for a book and I would read all books from Chris Kunz.  

Ruby's Misadventure by Helen Kelly
Reviewer: Paris Raphael (age 10)

This book is about a kitten named Ruby adopted from the RSPCA.  Her owner Sarah has a friend called Cassie.  In the story Ruby eats something that is poisonous to her.  Ben is Cassie and Sarah’s friend and he helps the girls find out what poisoned Ruby. They rush Ruby to the vet to see if they can save her.

This book is an exciting story that rates about 9/10. It’s age range is 8-10 or older if you love cats.

For more information about the RSPA Animal Tales series go to the Random House website at

Just Doomed

Just Doomed
Reviewer: Daniel Hall (age 11)

Author: Andy Griffith
Illustration: Terry Denton

Just Doomed is a very funny book about Andy doing all these things where he's practically doomed like stealing his mum's handbag from a police station, having to go on a three day drive to a resort and then when they get there they find out it's a naturalist resort. Plus heaps more funny things.

There's even a choose your own adventure story in it.

I think it is best for 9-12 year olds. I recommend it 10 out of 10.

For more information see the website

These are my hands feet

These are my hands & These are my feet
Reviewer: Sally Hall

Author: Judy Horacek
Publisher: National Library of Australia

This picture book is a double whammy featuring These are My Hands and if you flip it over you also get These are My feet.

My feet take me places... hopping, skipping, jumping races, crazy, zany, backyard chases.

It is written in simple rhyme that is perfect for reading aloud. The illustrations are colourful and interesting and the subject matter of all the amazing things we can do with our hands and feet will no doubt appeal to toddlers and babies.

It is a great size for throwing in a nappy bag and is a lovely hard back edition complete with a dust jacket. A perfect distraction tool just in case you get stuck in a long queue with a restless child!

For more information see:

Little Good Wolf

Little Good Wolf
Reviewer: Sally Hall

Author: Aleesah Darlison
Illustrator: Shannon Melville
Publisher: Wombat Books

Little Good Wolf wants to be liked and to have friends. He wants to belong. But Little Good Wolf has one HUGE problem. His dad is the Big Bad Wolf, the most feared villain in all of Fairytale Land. The Big Bad Wolf scares girls in red capes. He chases grannies in their nighties. He blows houses down and frightens little pigs. No wonder no one will play with Little!

Little Good Wolf is a very cute story featuring familiar fairy tale characters.

When Little's Dad's reputation prevents Little from making friends he sets out to help his dad find a new vocation with some hilarious results.

This is a great book for young readers with large font and some fantastic black and white illustrations.

Will the Big Bad Wolf find a new career that his son approves of? You'll have to read it to find out.

For more information check out this link:

Australian Backyard Naturalist

Australian Backyard Naturalist
Reviewer: Sally Hall

Author: Peter Macinnis
Publisher: National Library of Australia

Did you know that the Giant Gippsland earth worm grows to a metre in length? Or that daddy long-leg spiders hunt and eat redbacks?

Australian Backyard Naturalist is a fantastic collection of facts, photos, illustrations and projects, as well as notes from the authors own experiences.

There are fun projects to complete in your own backyard, e.g. making nest boxes for possums, making pit and fly traps, creating a frog pond, catching and keeping spiders and slugs, or creating a worm farm.

The topics covered include mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, spiders, butterflies, flies, mosquitos, ants, stingers, snails, slugs, earthworms and leeches.

The graphic design is varied and interesting with no large chunks of text to discourage reluctant readers. Photos of deceased animals and close ups of fly eyes and maggots, as well as the array of fun facts will keep children turning the pages. The projects are user friendly and include checklists and easy to follow instructions using mostly every day materials.

At 222 pages it is a substantial resource for a classroom or library. It would make a lovely gift, especially for boys. My own sons were quick to grab this from the pile of review books and anything that encourages them to get away from the computer screen and discover nature is a hit with me!

For more information please see the National Library of Australia website

This edition is the sister publication to the Australian Backyard Explorer.

Bureau of Mysteries

Bureau of Mysteries
Reviewer: Paris Raphael (age 9)

Author: H.J Harper

Strange things happen in Little Obscurity - but the Bureau Of Mysteries is always there to investigate.

George Feather and Imp Spektor are on the case to solve the case of the Clockwork Octopus Society. The whole point of this adventure is so that George will be getting a better life and earn some money so he can at least get some real food instead of beetle infested bread AKA (beetle  bread as George calls it.)

George is a chimney sweeper that has got a big exciting life ahead of him.

They meet all sorts of crazy people and things. One of my favourite parts was when Imp had got his sleeve caught on the mechanical Destructo'o'Dragon's scales and George had to save him with solving a special code of the Octopus Society.

I think the age range to enjoy this book is around about 8 to 11 and is for both girls and boys.

For more information see or

Hal Junior

Hal Junior – The Secret Signal
Reviewer: Paris Raphael (age 9)

Author: Simon Haynes
Publisher: Fremantle Press and distributed by Penguin Australia

Hal Junior and his friend Stinky live in a futuristic space station. Hal is a mischievous boy and loves to find adventure wherever he can get it.

One day on an excursion with his classmates to the “tiger” a spaceship docked at the station he discovers that his mum [a famous scientist]is sending him a message in Morse code. The message says that his class and his mum are all being held hostage by the men on the “tiger” and to get help.

Hal junior manages to somehow escape and get help. It’s one big adventure for them all on an ordinary school day. I found the book a bit slow at the beginning as it’s probably suited to boys more than girls around 8-10 years.

For more information please see


Monkey Business (Star League 5)
Reviewer: Paris Raphael (Age 9)

Author: H.J Harper
Publisher: Random House

‘Le Nice Pets’ is all the rage among the rich and famous - Aunt Petunia promises to turn your misbehaving pets into perfect angels. But Leigh suspects something’s not right, and when animals start to go missing it’s time for the Star League to step in. But the closer they get to finding the missing animals, the more dangerous it becomes for those close to Leigh. Is cracking this case worth losing what Leigh cares most about in the world?

What is the Book about?
The book is about saving the word from evil aunt petunia with her le nice pets collars and saving the animals.

What did you like best about the book?
My favourite part was when they saved the world

What age range do you think is best suited to this book?
8 -10

Did you think it was a good length?

Did it keep you interested right to the end?

Would you read more books by this author?

What would you give this book out of 10? 

For more information check out this link:

The boy who ate himself

The Boy Who Ate Himself
Reviewed by Sally Hall

Author: Colin Cardwell
Illustrator: Tony Lowe
Publisher: Random House Australia

This is a very cute, quirky picture book about a boy who ate himself, yep, you read that right!

The illustrations are very amusing, I particularly like the cover image of a boy dousing himself with salt, preparing himself for the feast of fingers, toes and knees until there is nothing left but a mouth. Harold Jones would rather eat himself than the 'healthy stuff' his mother has prepared.

This is the gruesomest story,
the horriblest of tales.
It's worse than spiders and snakes
and snails.

It's the scariest story
upon the bookshelf.

It's about the boy
who ate himself.

This book is highly original, told in rhyme, with bright illustrations and a crazy subject matter which I think will particularly appeal to boys. It is a square format of 23 x 23cm's in paperback and is also available as an e-book.

For more information see

Grat Siege

Erasmus James & the Grat Siege
Reviewed by Sally Hall

DC Green
Publisher: Barrel Books

DC has created a magical, yet slightly terrifying world of giant rats, unicorns, enormous flying carrier chickens and talking horses.

Twelve year old Erasmus James the star of previous books Erasmus James and the Galactic Zapp Machine and Erasmus James, Kings of Kid’s Paradise returns to narrate the excitement of the Grat Siege.

The inhabitants of Uponia are in deep trouble.  A military force of giant armoured rats called Grats, led by the evil Queen Dice, is after Erasmus.

Holed up in the Golden Castle, Erasmus and his friends are bravely defending the Grat attack but will they survive?  Their food and water is almost gone, their weapons aren’t quite making the grade and the attack just keeps coming in wave after terrible wave.

Using a Zapp machine, Erasmus searches for help from other worlds.  Will he find it in time to save his friends and the Island of Uponia from total destruction?

The Grat Siege is full of page turning terror, amazing creatures and amusing one-liners that will appeal especially to boys, holding their attention until the very last full stop.  
For more information visit

Be sure to check out the interesting facts about Author DC Green at the end of the book.

Star Girl

Sticky Tricks (Star Girl Series Book 10)
Reviewed by Paris Raphael (age 9)

Author: Louise Park
Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Adelaide Banks has made it into the captains year of the SEAS Space Agent program. Does Second Year Space Captain Star Girl have what it takes to save space – one planet at a time?

An evil force has struck planet Perilenda and the skunettas are disappearing. When Space Captains Star Girl and Supernova 1 are sent to investigate they soon learn that seeing isn't always believing. Can they see through the evil tricks in time to save the alien skunettas?

What is the Book about?
The book is about two friends going into outer space and discovering a planet that goes through 4 seasons in a day. Their mission was to kill a shape shifting alien.

What did you like best about the book?
My favourite part was when they went snowboarding.

What age range do you think is best suited to this book?
About 7 to 9 years of age.

Did you think it was a good length?

Would you read more books by this author?

What would you give this book out of 10? 

For more information check out the Pan Macmillan websites Park

Tropical Trouble

Tropical Trouble
Review by Paris Raphael (Age 9)

What is the Book about?
The book is about two twins named Perse and Portia that go with their grandma to Fiji. Then all these problems start to happen, they lose their luggage and Portia’s hair turns bright hot pink and to top it all off they’re stuck in kids club for most of the trip. They are forced to bring their annoying seven year old neighbour Dillon AKA Dill pickle .ha ha ha. Perse has a travel diary that she writes everything in, including all the adventures they had in kids club.

What did you like best about the book?
My favourite part of the story was when Perse went snorkelling and had to face her fear of sharks.

What age range do you think is best suited to this book?
About 9 to 11

Did you think it was a good length?

Did it keep you interested right to the end?
Yes. It was a fun exciting book to read.

Would you read more books by this author?
Yes I definitely would.

What would you give this book out of 10? Any other comments.
9.5/10 and I really enjoyed this book.

For more information see:


Pearlie in Paris
Book review by Paris Raphael (Age 9)

Author: Wendy Harmer
Illustrator: Gypsy Taylor
Publisher: Random House

What is the Book about?
It’s about a fairy named Pearlie from Australia who goes to Paris to visit the famous Fifi fairy. She designs the latest fashion for fairies and lives in the gardens of the “Palais Royal”. That night a snail named Percy smells a beautiful scent and munches on Fif’s spring collection [all the clothes for the fashion show]. Then it’s up to Pearlie’s quick and artistic thinking to help Fifi save her fashion show.

What did you like best about the book?
When Pearlie watched the fashion show with Fifi in her garden.

What age range do you think is best suited to this book?
5-8 years old.

Did you think it was a good length?
Yes it was a good length.

Did it keep you interested right to the end?
Yes it did. It was very interesting.

Would you read more books by this author?
Yes I would. I love this author and have read many books she’s written.

What would you give this book out of 10? Any other comments?
I give this book 9.5/10. It was a really fun book to read. I love all of Pearlie’s adventures.

The Great Expedition

The Great Expedition
Reviewed by Uma Singh

Author: Peter Carnavas
Illustrator: Peter Carnavas
Publisher: New Frontier Publishing 

Inspired by the legendary explorers Burke and Wills, this story details the adventure of a group of young, intrepid explorers facing a mighty trek – across the park!

The individuals in the team have been recruited for their specific strengths to ensure success, and our group set off with an important package to be delivered at their destination. However, unforseen events during the journey see some of members distracted from the task at hand and numbers dwindle. How many explorers will be left? Will the important package be delivered?

Imagination is the key to this story, as an every day trip turns into an epic journey. The story keeps you turning pages, and the lovingly illustrated pictures depict the adventures beautifully.

Killer Koalas

Killer Koalas from Outer Space
Review by Daniel Hall (aged 11)

Author: Andy Griffiths
Illustrator: Terry Denton
Publisher: Pan MacMillan

Killer Koalas from Outer Space is a funny book. It was written by Andy Griffiths and Illustrated by Terry Denton.

This book has a whole heap of jokes, funny stories and other stuff, especially killer koalas that will rip your face off. The granny's were pretty funny too.

I think it would be enjoyed by kids from about 8 to 12 years old.

I give it a 9 out of 10 because it made me laugh a lot.

Sorcerer's Apprentice

The Sorcerers Apprentice
Reviewed by Uma Singh

Author: Tom Skinner
Illustrator: Annie White
Publisher: New Frontier Publishing 

The Sorcerer’s car and camel wash (yes, you read correctly), is the place to be, and with esteemed clientele like the Mayor, business is good. Rizwan, the sorcerers apprentice, works at the car and camel wash, but soon tires of his ‘boring’ duties.

Left in charge and wanting to impress, Rizwan get’s a little bit ahead of himself, and even after an express warning by the sorcerer, conjures spells beyond his control which lands him in all sorts of trouble!

The bright and colourful illustrations in this book add to the magic of this tale. It is entertaining and also teaches a classic lesson in patience and perseverance.

The book also comes with a CD narration by Antonio Kidman for something a little bit different!

For more information see the New Frontier website at

Alice Miranda

Alice Miranda by Sea
Reviewed by Jemma Carey (aged 11)

Author: Jacqueline Harvey
Publisher: Random House Australia

The book is about Alice-Miranda going on a fabulous cruise called Octavia, because her Aunt Charlotte and Lawrence Ridley are getting married and Alice's Aunt Gee is hosting the ceremony.

Just before the ceremony everything goes wrong. There is wild weather, and there is even rumours to be a jewel thief and Alice-Miranda has a feeling she knows the ships doctor somehow.

The best part of this book was when Alice-Miranda see's the ship for the first time and just is amazed!

I think that this book is best suited for 10-13 years of age it was pefect length because it had room for every detail.

I loved this book, I couldn't put it down.

I can't wait to read the rest of the Alice-Miranda books. I give this book an 8/10.

Koala Bounces Back

The Koala Bounces Back
Reviewed by Sally Hall

Author: Jimmy Thomson
Illustrator: Eric Lobbecke
Publisher: Random House Australia

Karri the koala is enjoying his peaceful bush home until a gang of fierce cats move in.

The cats are frightening the small animals and birds but when Karri asks them to leave they refuse. They've been dumped by their owners and have no where else to live.

Karri and the cats make a deal. They'll play football (soccer!) and if the cats win they get to stay, the only problem is Karri and his friends don't really know how to play. Will the bush animals band together, using their strengths to make a successful sporting team or will the cats take over forever?

This book touches on several themes including protecting native animals, the importance of looking after pets and the differences between the two. The illustrations are colourful and appealing. The story is engaging with a happy ending and embraces the idea that fueding parties can find a solution that doesn't involve violence.

The Koala Bounces Back is a sequel to the The Koala Who Bounced. According to the author's website the original version of the bouncing koala was created 18 years ago & it has now reached a second generation of readers.

For more information check out the Random House Australia website:

Nanny Piggins

Nanny Piggins and the Rival Ringmaster
Review by Jemma Carey (age 11)

Author: RA Sprat
Publisher: Random House

What is the Book about?
Nanny Piggins is an adventurous pig who likes to live her life dangerously, but in this book she comes across The Ringmaster from the Circus. She meets a princess who wants her to make a cake for her wedding but then the princess ends up hiding in the cake to get out of it. Nanny Piggins wins a nobel prize that was meant for her sister but she impersonates her and she meets her old friend Esmeralda again.

What did you like best about the book?
I think the best part of this book was all her adventures because it really felt like you were there watching them happen.

What age range do you think is best suited to this book?
I think 9-12 year olds would enjoy this book best.

Did you think it was a good length?
This book was a great length for the story itself because it was not too long but it was long enough that you always knew exactly what happened and and every little detail too.

Did it keep you interested right to the end?
I definitely think this book was great and I never wanted to take my eyes off the page.

Would you read more books by this author?
I would most definitely read more books by this author because this book was great.

I would give this book a 10/10. It was amazing.

There are many other adventures to read as well. Want to know more? See

Mystery of Nida Valley

The Mystery of Nida Valley
Review by Jemma Carey (age 11)

Author: EJ Ouston

This Book is about a fourteen year old girl named Meg, her older cousin Jaiden and Meg's friend Amanda who happen to stumble upon a secret valley. It is a dangerous world of magic and there is time travel and creatures that they believed were extinct.

What I liked best about the book that no one knew about their secret land where they could have their own adventures.

I think this book is best for ages 10-14 years old and was a great length.

In this book there was a lot of adventure so it definitely kept me interested the whole story. I really loved this book so I would definitely love to read more books by this author. I am giving this book a 9/10.

Want to know more? Check out EJ Ouston's website at

Riley and the Curious Koala

Riley and the Curious Koala (a journey around Sydney)
Review by Sally Hall

Author: Tania McCartney
Illustrator: Kieron Pratt

Riley and the Curious Koala is the third book in the Riley adventure series. My seven year old son plucked this book from a large pile of books in my office and asked me to read it to him the moment he saw it.

Junior pilot Riley takes us on a journey around Sydney's landmarks in search of an elusive koala. Riley and his friends swoop all over, taking in Bondi Beach, the Opera House, Luna Park and many more iconic views of this famous city.

The colourful cartoon illustrations coupled with black and white photographs of Sydney's attractions are an unusual but very appealing combination.

As we are regular visitors to Sydney my son enjoyed seeing Riley and his friends at familiar locations, however this was just a bonus, you don't need to know the city to appreciate the images. In fact, this book would be a perfect gift to take overseas.

Riley and the Curious Koala was a hit in my house and I'm sure it will be in yours too! I look forward to reading the next book in the series - Riley and the Grumpy Wombat (A journey around Melbourne).

Other books in the series include Riley and the Sleeping Dragon (A journey around Bejing) and Riley and the Dancing Lion (A journey around Hong Kong).

Want to know more see

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