Featured Reviews March 2024

Featured Reviews March 2024

Featured Reviews from our March 2024 mailout:

Author: Katrina McKelvey
Illustrator: Deb Hudson
ISBN: 9781922539571
Publisher: EK Books
Release date: 06 March 2024
Reading age: 3 to 6 years

Book Description: A moving story about the bond between a mother and her child. My Heart depicts the many ways a mother’s heart can experience love and emotion while her baby journeys through the milestones of growing up. The story uses repetition and subtle variation to reflect the activity and reactions of the mother's heart, and how they change with each mother-child interaction. The narrative moves through the early years until the child goes off on their first independent activity, a deeply moving moment for all mothers. Beautifully detailed illustrations depict the connection between mother and child, reminding readers that a mother's heart will always be with her children, no matter where they go.

Novel Insight Short Review: The bond between a mother and a child is unbreakable. As she watches her baby explore the world, her heart responds to what she sees. With illustrated images of her heart on each page, the mother's heart smiles over a baby bath, giggles at messy eating, aches over an injury, and laughs at mixed-up costumes.

Author: Coral Vass (AU)
Illustrator: Heidi Cooper Smith (AU)
ISBN: 9781761111266
Publisher: Wombat Books
Release date: 06 March 2024
Reading age: 7 to 11 years

Book Description: Amanda and her two best friends, Lucia and Mai, are the Dolphin Squad. They live by the beach, hang out in HQ and solve all sort of problems. Amanda Commander is nearly nine and there is nothing she loves more than hanging out with her two best friends at HQ, making all sorts of plans and solving all kinds of problems. Amanda Commander is kind, loyal and a natural-born leader. But even school can be a battlefield sometimes, so sometimes Amanda and her Squad need a plan just to survive. When Amanda returns to school after having a sick day, she finds fitting back into the friendship group tricker than she imagined. Amanda makes a plan, with the help of the Dolphin Squad, to go out of their way and include anyone. But when Eve is sick and has a few days off school, how will Amanda ensure Eve doesn’t have a blues-day back at school just like she did? It’s OPERATION WELCOME BACK! Amanda tries everything to make Eve feel included, even when it means being left out herself. AMANDA COMMANDER - THE BLUES-DAY TUESDAY is the fourth book in a Junior Fiction series promoting kindness, loyalty and friendship.

Novel Insight Short Review: After Amanda is sick for a school day and the weekend, she worries that her friends will not include her anymore. Amanda did not like being sick. When Eve Kelly, Amanda’s childhood rival, gets sick with the flu and misses a whole week, Amanda and her Dolphin Squad show incredible empathy for Eve. How can they make sure she doesn't feel worried about school?

Author: Emily Gale and Nova Weetman
ISBN: 9781922790231
Publisher: Text Publishing
Release date: 27 February 2024
Reading age: 9 to 13 years

Book Description: From the dream duo of Australian middle-grade comes this time-slip novel that explores the early life of Kate Kelly, sister of the infamous Ned. Kate and Ruby live in the High Country in Victoria. They're both daring, quick-thinking and prepared to break the rules, and they're both brilliant horse riders-they'd probably be great friends. But they live in different times, 145 years apart. While galloping through the mountains, Kate rides headlong into a thrilling experience that transports her from 1878 to the future, where she meets Ruby. Kate and Ruby return to 1878, where Kate is secretly taking supplies to her brother Ned and the rest of the Kelly Gang, who are in hiding from the police. Together the girls work to confuse the police and keep the gang from being found and arrested. But the looming disaster makes things less clear-cut for Ruby. They're about the have the ride of their lives! Outlaw Girls is an exciting, fast-paced time-slip novel, narrated by both Ruby and Kate, about family, friendship, loyalty and betrayal, the complexity of right and wrong, and working out what matters most.

Content Insight: Ruby and her friends steal multiple times throughout the book for fun. After hotwiring a tractor, they steal it and get shot at (in the modern day). Kate and Ruby are both under threat multiple times from the police officers looking for the Kelly gang. Contains discussions of murder and betrayal. No graphic violence.

Novel Insight Short Review: Ruby and her friends often get into trouble for stealing and playing tricks on people. When Ruby’s mum sends her away to live with her uncle, Ruby starts an unexpected adventure. She meets a girl called Kate, who initially doesn’t reveal her real name out of fear. However, the reader knows it is Kate Kelly, the younger sister of Ned Kelly from 1878. Kate is not convinced she has travelled to 2022. But things are very unfamiliar, and she asks Ruby to take her back to where it happened. Once there, she hears galloping again and realises a magic horse can transport them between the two times. But instead of travelling alone, Ruby accidentally comes with Kate to 1878!

Author: Kate Gordon
ISBN: 9780645869316
Publisher: Riveted Press
Release date: 06 March 2024
Reading age: 12 to 15 years

Book Description: Esme doesn’t like the girl she sees in the mirror. Not pretty enough. Not thin enough. Not smart enough or talented enough. Nothing at all like her big sister, Ro. Then, a new friend comes into her life—a friend who wants Esme to be exactly who she is, or so Esme thinks. For a while, Esme likes who she sees in the mirror—even if it never really feels like her. But then, she messes up. Her friend goes away, leaving her alone. There’s no-one to help cover up the fact that she is a talentless nobody whose only real dream is to work in a milk bar—which will never be good enough for her controlling mother. When two new friends try to help her see the real Esme again, she can’t risk it happening all over again. She can’t be their friend. And she definitely can’t let them convince her to be in the school play … School plays are for girls like Ro. So, of course she gets a part. Because she is perfect. But what if Ro wasn’t as perfect as she seems? What if she needs Esme’s help? And what if the real Esme Rogers is nothing like who anybody says she is, but a creature of her own making, who can be more than any of them imagine … even if it makes her mother mad. A book about finding friendship in unlikely places and finding yourself in even stranger ones … And, most importantly … ice cream.

Content Insight: Discusses body image, dieting and eating disorders. Esme’s older sister, Ro, skips meals and is implied to have bulimia.

Ro and Esme’s parents give preferential treatment to Ro over Esme. They refuse to let Esme see a psychologist.
Contains implied self-harm. Ro finds Esme in the bathroom with a pair of scissors.

Novel Insight Short Review: Esme is a grade nine student who works in a milk bar, loves musicals, and struggles with her sense of self-worth. With the help of old and new friends, she navigates her insecurities in her friendships, family, and school.

Esme in the Limelight is a thought-provoking story about insecurity, perfection, and growth.

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