'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Tuesday 26 April 2011

KBR Recommends: New Junior Fiction, April 2011

This grab-bag of great new titles - some part of a series, some stand alone - will have your young ones hunkering down with their noses buried deeply in the pages. This batch of books would suit both boys and girls aged 6 through 12.

Battle Boy: Super Soldier and Battle Boy: Sky Wars by Charlie Carter
(Pan Macmillan, $9.99, 9780330403993, Apr 2011)

The next instalments in the wildly successful Battle Boy series (no.s 11 and 12, respectively), our time-travelling hero Napoleon Augustus Smythe is back with more enthralling adventure.

In Super Soldier, he visits the Battle of Thermopylae, 380 BC, when Persian King Xerxes I fights Greek forces led by the Spartans.

Professor Perdu wants to try out her latest creation – the 2.2 metre tall super soldier, Tex. However, an accident in the Tome Tower means that a Battle Book has been sucked into another Battle Book!

Together, BB005 and Tex must retrieve the missing Battle Book, before it falls into the wrong hands!

In Sky Wars, Battle Boy BB005 (Augustus) travels to the Zeppelin war between Germany and Britain (1915 – 1916).

This is BB005's first special MetaBook mission. MetaBooks contain multiple battles over long periods of time, and nobody has ever explored one before.

In this mission, BB005 will be flying blind – no contact with the outside world, and no instruction manual. Eeep.

Beautifully designed for boys with high-level interest but low-level reading, these books make both history and reading cool.

Dreamer Ballerina by Sarah Rubin
(Chicken House, $16.99, 9781906427610, Apr 2011)

Looking at her ratty-tatty, used-to-be-white, too-big high-tops, and then at her skinny chicken legs poking up from the ground, you’d never think that Casey Quinn could ever be a ballerina.

But just because Casey can’t do ballet in high-tops doesn’t mean she can’t dance. She has more grace in her pinkie toe than the local pinky-pink, richer girls put together. Casey has a dream to dance in New York - and no-one is going to stop her.

Sarah Rubin's Dreamer Ballerina is a feel-good ballet story to rival Billy Elliot – and in the spirit of Noel Streatfeild’s Ballet Shoes.

The Boy Who Wasn't There by Michael Panckridge
(Black Dog Books, $16.99, 9781742031828, Apr 2011)

Gabrielle has no memory. No family. No past.

All Gabrielle remembers is a voice in her head that tells her she is not like anyone else. It tells her she is on a quest. Her journey might lead her home. Or it might destroy the one person who loved her.

Placed in foster care after awakening in a hospital bed, Gabrielle struggles to piece together her fractured memory. But strange things are happening at her new home. Who – or what – is behind the horrifying events at the house? And why do they have Gabrielle in their sights?

Can Gabrielle unravel the mystery before it is too late?

EJ12: Out of This World by Susannah McFarlane
(Lemon Fizz Media (Scholastic) $12.99, 9781921684234, Mar 2011)

In book nine of the series, Special Agent EJ12 needs to take off and aim high. Can she stop Shadow from finding out all Shine's secrets?

That's the easy part. As EJ12, Emma Jacks can do anything. So why is she is getting worked up about her school project? Perhaps she isn't, after all.

Bungawitta by Emily Rodda
(Omnibus, $12.99, 9781862918337, Apr 2011)

It's crunch time in Bungawitta. The land's as dry as a dead galah, there's no rain in sight, and there are only twelve people left in town.

Little Glory-Alice blames it all on the TV weatherman. Jay knows better. Nobody can make it rain. But a shower of money would help keep Bungawitta alive. And a festival would attract city tourists with money to spend, Jay's sure of it. But can twelve people, two dogs and a Shetland pony put on a proper festival?

Only time, and the ABC, will tell.

The Wounded Falcon by JP Barnett
(Wombat Books, $12.99, 9781921633263, Mar 2011)

While out on a hunting expedition with your trained falcon, an unexpected event occurs that threatens her life. Alone, you are the only person who can rescue her. Can you succeed before it's too late?

Unlike normal books, The Wounded Falcon is part story/part game. The choices you make as a reader will determine your ultimate success or failure.

One die, one pencil and an eraser are all you need to embark on this adventure.

Kate the Royal Wedding Fairy by Daisy Meadows
(Orchard Books, $9.99, 9781408315248, Apr 2011)

A wonderful new fairy friend here just in time for a certain royal wedding!

Kate the Royal Wedding Fairy makes sure that all weddings are happy and magical!

But when mean Jack Frost steals the True Love Crown, the Fairyland royal wedding is sure to be a disaster.

Can Kirsty and Rachel find the crown so the royal couple will live happily ever after…

Duckstar/Cyberfarm and Operatic Duck/Duck on Tour
by Hazel Edwards and Christine Anketell
(IP Kidz, $17.99, 9781876819571/9781876819809)

A two-book series of back-to-back stories with delightful illustrations certain to captivate younger readers.

In Book 1, Duckstar, Duck and his friends have a problem: their farm will be closed down unless they can find the money to improve its safety features. Their big chance comes when they are asked to appear as extras in a television advertisement. Will their plan work?

In their second (flip the book over) adventure, Cyberfarm, Duck and his friends are going to be replaced by robots and virtual farm animals. They devise a plan to win back the tourists by performing a show.

In Book 2, Operatic Duck, Duck and his friends are asked to take part in a community performance of the opera Aida. They all want the show to be a success, but rehearsals aren't going well...

In their second adventure, Duck on Tour, Duck and his friends take the show on the road, heading to the outback to perform Aida there. But then it starts to rain, and before long their train is cut off in the middle of nowhere by floodwaters. Is there anything the animals can do to save everyone?

The Rainbow Necklace by Jacqueline Larsen
(Wombat Books, $14.95, 9781921633294, Apr 2011)

When five girls are brought together by circumstance in the middle of the dry, hot, dusty outback, the last thing they expect is the start of a lifetime of adventures.

In just a few hours, the day becomes one they will never forget. Friendships that normally take time to grow are forged. The future won’t be the same and, as they explore history, the past won’t be either.

Join Matilda, Emily, Amy, Belle and Jasmine as they adventure through Australia’s outback and history. Together you’ll have an opportunity to celebrate the spirit of Australian girls!