Featured Reviews May Alternative and Accessible Reading

Featured Reviews May Alternative and Accessible Reading

Featured Reviews from our May Alternative and Accessible Newsletter 2024 mailout:

Information Books

Author: Anthony Browne (UK)
Illustrator: Anthony Browne (UK)
ISBN: 9781529509588
Publisher: Walker Books Australia
Release date: 01 May 2024
Reading age: 2 to 5 years

Book Description: Learn all about opposites through internationally renowned master picture book-maker Anthony Browne's beloved primates. What's the opposite of old? Young! What's the opposite of sad? Happy! But what's the opposite of opposite...? Featuring a range of exquisite primates, from gorillas to chimpanzees, white-faced capuchins to orangutans, Anthony Browne has created a wonderfully unique first book of opposites, with his striking palette and quirky flair for facial expressions sure to charm readers of all ages.

Novel Insight Review: Lots of things come in opposites. In this informative picture book, learn the opposites of common words through a series of gorillas. The reader is asked what is the opposite of 'big' accompanied by a gorilla taking up the entire page. The question is then answered with a baby monkey in the centre of the next page: 'small'! This book continues with the opposites of 'old', 'sad', 'heavy', and 'alone', before finishing with the opposite of 'opposite'. A useful and educational story with playful illustrations.

Author: Pamela Freeman
Illustrator: Liz Anelli
ISBN: 9781760653750
Publisher: Walker Books Australia
Release date: 03 Apr 2024
Reading age: 4 to 7 years

Book Description: Nature Storybooks Every wonderful word is true! In the oldest rainforest on Earth, on the oldest continent, a seed falls to the ground. Over hundreds of years, the seed will grow into a sapling reaching for the sunlight, to become a tree towering above the rainforest canopy. Generations of insects, butterflies, bird, lizards, snakes and an abundance of native wildlife will bear witness to the magnificent Bull Kauri pine...

Representations: References that the Bull Kauri pine was around at the time of the dinosaurs and the Daintree Forest is 135 million years old.

Novel Insight Review: The Bull Kauri pine is a magnificent tree. In this informative picture book, learn about the 135 million-year-old Daintree Forest and the ancient Bull Kauri pine. The seed takes over 200 years to grow to full size. It can endure different climates and is home to many animals in the Daintree. The Daintree is home to 230 species of butterflies and over 400 birds. As a seed grows to full size throughout the story, learn all about the ecosystems of the Daintree and the features of the Bull Kauri pine. A beautifully illustrated and educational story.

Author: Karen Tayleur
Illustrator: Guy Holt
ISBN: 9781742036694
Publisher: Wild Dog
Release date: 31 Jan 2024
Reading age: 4 to 7 years

Book Description: Worms are working for us day and night. They improve our soils by aerating and fertilising and they recycle our organic waste in the process. Where would we be without them? The Worm Book introduces different types of worm: segmented worms, roundworms, ribbon worms and flatworms with all that is weird and wonderful and the crucial role they play in recycling organic waste.

Accessibility: Contains large text and lots of illustrations.

Novel Insight Review: Worms are doing lots of helpful things for our world underground. In this informative book, learn the different types of worms, including segmented, ribbon, round and flatworms. Learn weird and wonderful facts about worms, how composting works and how to make a worm farm. An engaging book illustrated with large text, making it highly readable and appropriate for reluctant readers. Contains a glossary and index at the back.

Author: Alison Paterson
ISBN: 9781922615589
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing
Release date: 15 Jun 2022
Reading age: 9 to 13 years

Book Description: For over a century, Australians have served their country in war and peacekeeping missions across the world. On Anzac Day and Remembrance Day, we continue to gather and remember those who fought for our country in the past, and those who keep us safe today. In recent times, 41 Australian Defence Force personnel lost their lives whilst on duty in the conflict in Afghanistan. Cameron Baird, VC, MG is one such Australian who died in the service of his country. Cameron was born to lead, inspiring others and gaining the respect of his peers. A dedicated soldier, Cameron’s leadership and courageous actions resulted in the award of the Medal of Gallantry in 2007-2008. In 2013, while on active service in Afghanistan, Cameron lost his life while attempting to rescue a wounded mate. His act of supreme sacrifice, valour and devotion to duty was recognised with the awarding of Australia’s highest battlefield honour – the Victoria Cross. This is a story of Australian service in East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a story of mateship, dedication, leadership and sacrifice, and one we should never forget.

Content Insight: Contains images of war. Cameron Baird died trying to rescue another wounded officer.

Representations: Contains soldiers in the Afghanistan war.

Novel Insight Short Review: Australia remembers not only the soldiers in the two world wars, but also our more recent heroes. This informative story is partly narrative non-fiction, with facts, images and details about other wars. Cameron Baird was one of 41 Australian men who died in service in Afghanistan. He was awarded a Victorian cross. Through Cameron's story and this series, learn what the defence force members do for Australia in their daily service.

Graphic Novels

Author: Paige Braddock
Illustrator: Paige Braddock
Series: Peanut, Butter and Crackles #3
ISBN: 9781839949906
Publisher: Nosy Crow
Release date: 16 Jan 2024
Reading age: 5 to 8 years

Book Description: Peanut, Butter and Crackers are back and off to doggy school in the third hilarious graphic novel for pet lovers and fans of The Secret Life of Pets. Crackers and floppy-eared puppy Peanut are off to doggy school! But when the two dogs are separated, Peanut is left to fend for himself against canine bullies. Determined to help him, Butter sneaks in and sets off a cat commotion! Can Peanut, Butter and Crackers find a way to make doggy school cool again? A sweet and hilarious story about life seen through the eyes of pets, perfect for newly independent readers, visual readers and pet owners. This edition contains lots of fun bonus extras, including how to draw, behind the scenes and a short story!

Novel Insight Short Review: Peanut the puppy, Crackles the dog and Butter the cat live in the same home. In each story, the three animals show that they care about each other through their different personalities. When Peanut has to go to Doggy School, Crackers assumes they will be in the same class. However, Crackles is in the intermediate class, and Peanut is new. Peanut comes home unhappy from the first day because the other pups tease him. Butter and Crackles find a sneaky way to join the Little Pup group and watch out for Peanut. But when mishaps occur, will Peanut be able to make new friends?

Author: Jonathan Todd
Illustrator: Jonathan Todd
ISBN: 9781761523977
Publisher: Scholastic Inc
Release date: 1 May 2024
Reading age: 9 to 13 years

Book Description: When Cecil and his family move from Florida to Massachusetts, his world suddenly becomes a little scary. Cecil is anxious because all the other kids are already in friendship groups at his new school, and he doesn’t know where he’ll fit in. And to complicate things even more, his older sister tells him he should make friends with other Black kids. Cecil has always wanted to be known for his comic book-making talent and tries to use that to make new friends. But he’s torn when he realises that the kids who are impressed with his comics aren’t always nice to him. And when one of his drawings is misused and gets him into serious trouble, can Cecil stand up for himself and figure out who his real friends are?

Representations: Contains Black families, a Black Christian church, and a positive representation of Christianity.

Novel Insight Short Review: After his father gets a new job, Cecil's family moves to a new town. He no longer attends his small Baptist school and has to adjust to new friends, a new church and a new house. Cecil loves to draw and write comics, which he assumes no one will understand. His parents tell him to join in with the other black kids, but he awkwardly sits at an empty table on the first day. After navigating nerves and challenging situations with his peers, will Cecil learn to stand up for himself and embrace his love of comics?

Author: Juluwarlu Group Aboriginal Corporation
Illustrator: Alex Mankiewicz
ISBN: 9781761180651
Publisher: A&U Children's
Release date: 3 Apr 2024
Reading age: 10 to 14 years

Book Description: Yindjibarndi believe all creation is written in our landscape and was sung long ago, filling our Ngurra (Country) with sacred meanings and deep religious significance. At the dawn of time, Ngurra Nyujunggamu, the world was soft as clay and the sky was very low. Our Creator, Minkala, sang the songs from which all life and Ngurra evolved. These are some of our stories. Our grandmothers and grandfathers sing our songs and tell our stories every day, just like our old people long ago sang songs and told stories to their children. And now we are sharing them with you. Dynamically illustrated by Alex Mankiewicz with striking artwork by members of the Juluwarlu Art Group, When the World Was Soft is a powerful gift of culture for young and old.

Content Insight: Contains cartoon illustrations of nudity and violence. This is not graphic and depicts the traditional Aboriginal lifestyle.

Representations: Contains Aboriginal beliefs and Yindjibarndi people.

Novel Insight Short Review: Yindjibarndi people believe Creation was written in the landscape and fill the landscape with sacred meaning. Learn about Ngurra Nyujunggamu, Creation, with detailed illustrations and descriptions. The Creator Minkala created the Marrga, creation spirits, that moved across the landscapes. Each section begins with an artwork, and the artists are credited at the end of the book.

Reluctant Readers and More

Author: Karen McCombie
Illustrator: Anneli Bray
ISBN: 9781800901865
Publisher: HarperCollins GB
Release date: 4 Apr 2023
Reading age: 7 to 11 years

Book Description: A smashed china dragon helps Tyra to bond with her new classmates in this touching tale from bestselling author Karen McCombie. Tyra gets off to a tough start at her new school. She’s loud and different and nobody seems to be particularly friendly. So when her nan gives her a beautiful china snow dragon, Tyra decides to take it to school, hoping that people will think it’s interesting and talk to her. But disaster strikes and the beautiful dragon is smashed. Can Tyra find a way to repair her treasure while also making some new friends along the way?

Content Insight: Tyra grazes her elbows and knees after falling over.

Representations: Tyra lives with her Nan. Her parents are not mentioned. Both Tyra and her Nan are dark-skinned. Yasmeen's mother wears a hijab. Tyra's teacher, Mrs Suzuki is Japanese and imparts a few lessons about Japanese culture, including kintsugi and a legend of the dragon Okami.

Accessibility: Reluctant Reader and this book has a dyslexia-friendly layout, typeface and paperstock. It has been edited to a reading age of 7.

Novel Insight Short Review: Since moving in with her Nan, Tyra's love for treasure hunting in the Second Chance Charity Shop has grown. Although Tyra has found several treasures, she is constantly looking for the ultimate treasure: dragons! While Tyra is glad to be living with Nan, starting a new school is scary, and her loud, bouncy personality makes it hard for her to make friends. Luckily, Tyra has her dragon toy, Flame, to keep her company on her first day. Her first day is filled with many questions from the other kids, and Tyra realises being new is hard. Will Tyra be able to make friends when she feels so different?

Author: Eve Ainsworth
Illustrator: Kirsti Beautyman
ISBN: 9781800900929
Publisher: HarperCollins GB
Release date: 15 Jul 2022
Reading age: 9 to 13 years

Book Description: Acclaimed author Eve Ainsworth tackles the increasing expense of football for working-class kids in this touching story of family, community and beating the odds. Lewis loves football more than anything else in the world, so he’s thrilled when his talent is spotted by a local coach. But there are some big obstacles in his way. His mum doesn’t want him to have anything to do with the game because of what happened to his dad on the pitch. And even if Lewis can persuade her to let him give it a go, there’s no way they can afford the kit. Can Lewis beat the odds to have a chance of following his dream?

Representations: Contains cultural differences. Lewis is mixed race and his father was from Mauritius. Contains families from low socio-economic backgrounds. Contains a single parent and a widowed mother.

Accessibility: Reluctant Reader and this book has a dyslexia-friendly layout, typeface and paperstock. It has been edited to a reading age of 8.

Novel Insight Short Review: Twelve-year-old Lewis loves playing football (soccer). He plays it during break time at school and on a strip of land behind his home in a tower block. However, he keeps his practice hidden because his mother forbids him to play. His friend, Jermaine, has given him one of his old footballs to practice with, and although old and in poor condition, Lewis uses it to hone his skills. He also watches YouTube videos and takes every opportunity to learn. He dreams of one day playing in a team for real. Lewis’ friends, Jermaine and Harry, attend a football school called Ace Academy. They wish Lewis could go, but Lewis knows it would upset his mother if he asked. His mother has a picture of his father playing football, which she keeps hidden. Lewis enjoys looking at it in secret. His dad looks so happy and athletic. Lewis’ father was from Mauritius and died when Lewis was still young. Unfortunately, his mother continues to grieve and is over-protective of Lewis. She doesn’t want Lewis to play football because his father died during a game at Deansgate Football Ground. No one, including his own family from Mauritius, knew he had a weak heart. Lewis knows it wasn’t the football that killed him, but his mother refuses to acknowledge it. As Lewis practices his skills, a man stops to watch. He tells Lewis his name is Ash, and he works at Ace Academy. Impressed with Lewis' skills, Ash invites Lewis to some training sessions at Ace Academy. Will Lewis find a way to go?

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