Featured Reviews April 2024

April-May 2024: Have a sneak peek at some of the reviews for this month!

Featured Reviews from our April 2024 mailout:

Author: Elizabeth Pulsford
Illustrator: Krista Brennan
ISBN: 9781761111037
Publisher: Wombat Books
Release date: 01 May 2024
Reading age: 5 to 8 years

Book Description: Our lives are measured by the places we hold dear, the people we love and the paths we have trodden. So, who better to tell our stories than the shoes we wear? Through the endearing perspective of a beloved pair of working boots, this picture book narrates the life of a cattle farmer and his love of the Australian bush.

Content Insight: Through the illustrations, we see a montage of significant moments in a cattle farmer's life. In one of them, he is fighting fires. In another, he is saluting the statue of a soldier, and also we see him on his deathbed.

Representations: Contains Australian cattle farmers. The illustrations show that the farmer's wife is pregnant.

Novel Insight Short Review: Our Australian identity has been shaped by a generation of hardworking men and women, their humble lifestyles, and an unforgiving landscape. Through the perspective of a well-loved pair of working boots, this picture book narrates the trials and tribulations of a cattle farmer's life and his love of the Australian bush in simple, lyrical prose.

Author: Kate and Jol Temple
Illustrator: Shiloh Gordon
ISBN: 9781460764428
Publisher: HarperCollins AU
Release date: 03 Apr 2024
Reading age: 5 to 8 years

Book Description: Step into a top-secret world where frogs don't just eat flies, they eat danger! This is FROG SQUAD! Frog Squad comes to the rescue of a mega tanker in distress -- and it's full of ice-cream! Will these brave rescue frogs be fast enough to stop Professor Cain and The Organisation of Amphibious Devious Scoundrels (TOADS) from controlling the global supply of ice-cream? Streaming now on Frogflix!

Representations: One of the frogs lost his legs and has replacement fancy flippers. Although the ocean tanker is full of ice cream, the dangers of a marine spill are discussed.

Novel Insight Short Review: The Frog Squad is a team of good guys fighting off a team of toads. This group of bad toads are led by a poisonous cane toad. Meet the quirky characters through information files, explaining who they are and their frog species. Follow the Frog Squad as they fight the toads attacking an ocean tanker.

Author: Tylissa Elisara (AU)
Illustrator: Dylan Finney
ISBN: 9780734421982
Publisher: Lothian Children's Books
Release date: 27 Mar 2024
Reading age: 7 to 11 years

Book Description: It all began in a burrow. The fifty-fifth burrow of Bushland Avenue to be exact. If you were ever lucky enough to find this beautiful clearing on Kangaroo Island where the arching gum trees kiss, you'd know that Wurrtoo's home is the one at the end with the big red trapdoor and large gold doorknob. Can you see it? Wurrtoo the wombat lives a quiet and solitary life in his burrow on Kangaroo Island, hoping to one day travel to the mainland and marry the love of his life, the sky. When Wurrtoo inadvertently saves Kuula the koala from a bushfire, he acquires the adventure companion he didn't know he needed. With Kuula by his side, Wurrtoo leaves the safety of his burrow and sets out on an epic journey to cross the island, reach the mainland and climb to the top of tallest tree in the Forest of Dreaming. But it's fire season, and danger and strange creatures lurk behind every gum tree. To make it, the pair must face their fears together, learn the importance of friendship and discover the power of wombat wishes. Tylissa Elisara draws on classic children's literature in the tradition of Winnie the Pooh and Blinky Bill as well as stories from her own Narungga, Kaurna and Adnyamathanha heritage in this unique middle-grade novel about friendship, adventure and facing your fears.

Content Insight: Kuula and Wurrtoo lost their families in a bushfire. Wurrtoo almost drowns. Scenes of mild peril where a creature called a Yamuti attacks them. Echnidas are kidnapped to be eaten by a group of hogs.

Representations: References to First Nations history and mythology throughout the book.

Novel Insight Short Review: Wurrtoo is a wombat who spends his days expanding his large burrow and reading from his extensive library. Convinced that he is to marry his love, the sky, he goes on a journey to The Forest of Dreaming, meeting other animals and facing many obstacles along the way.

Author: Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
ISBN: 9781922790637
Publisher: Text Publishing
Release date: 09 Apr 2024
Reading age: 11 to 14 years

Book Description: A castle, a bridge, and dangerous secrets- in this page-turning story, set in Nazi-occupied France, a 12 year-old Jewish girl must learn who to trust and how to find her courage. 'We don't choose how we feel, but we choose how we act. Choose courage.' From the two-time Newbery Honor-winner and a #1 New York Times bestselling author of The War That Saved My Life and The War I Finally Won comes a new middle-grade novel, in which a girl who has lost everything must decide whether to risk her life to bring others to freedom. In 1942, much of France is occupied by the Nazis. Twelve-year-old Miri is Jewish, so she is not safe. Separated from her parents, she rescues her neighbours' two-year-old daughter Nora and escapes to a village, where she is given a new name and pretends to be Catholic to escape Nazi capture. Miri is at first wary of the convent school nuns, but soon learns that there is much more than meets the eye to these knowledgeable women. One night she is asked to undertake a terrifying task that could allow her to escape. But what about Nora? The person Miri meets that night could save her life. And the person Miri becomes that night could save the lives of many more. The Night War is a captivating and often funny story that explores history, moral dilemmas and friendships.

Content Insight: Contains the ghost of Catherine de Medici who helps Miriam. Contains some violence, including when Miriam is tied up and dragged back to the convent by a German soldier. However, nothing is graphic.

Representations: Contains Jewish culture and history. Shows racism, segregation, discrimination, and intense cruel persecution. Miriam and her family move to France. Contains Catholicism and nuns in a convent.

Novel Insight Short Review: Twelve-year-old Miriam and her family moved from Berlin to the Pletzl after the infamous Kristallnacht. Because they are Jewish, their house was burned down. In Paris, Miriam hopes they are safe at last, but she has a growing feeling of unrest. One day, the gendarmes (police) come and round up all the Jews in the Pletzl. She couldn't find her mother during the roundup, but she did hear a sound like a gunshot. The sound returns in her nightmares. On the bus to the velodrome, Madame Rosenbaum, Miriam's neighbour, tells Miriam to take her two-year-old daughter Nora and pretend she is her sister. She takes away Miriam's yellow star jersey and tells her to escape as soon as they disembark from the bus. Miriam does as she is told. But when Miriam and Nora are separated, will Miriam be able to find her and return home?

Author: Adele Jones
ISBN: 9781761111433
Publisher: Rhiza Edge
Release date: 04 Apr 2024
Reading age: 13 to 18 years

Book Description: People say Anna Faraday’s singing changes them, but she never imagined this to be literal. When the most romantic night of her life turns to disaster, she is forced to sing in a secret frequency-based physics experiment that goes wrong and is left fading from existence. Desperate, she seeks help from the last guy she ever thought she’d ask.

Content Insight: Anna is kidnapped by one of her teachers. Contains romance between Anna and Rennie. They kiss but it is not graphic. Contains forced substance use to induce memory loss. Anna's brother died in a car accident. This is not described in detail.

Representations: Contains positive references to Christianity, but Rennie has conflicted feelings about God. Set in the Cleveland area of Queensland, with references to Ormiston Station and Raby Bay.

Novel Insight Short Review: Anna Faraday is a high school student and gifted musician who lives in Cleveland, Queensland. After being subject to an awry experiment, her body is shifting away from the earthly dimension. In a race against time, Anna tries desperately to stay attached to the physical world with the help of Rennie, a high school graduate and former inmate of a juvenile detention centre.

Want to see more Novel Insight Reviews?

Sign up as a school or individual member. Long reviews are available with a full membership.