More on Atticus… (Book 2) – Younger Readers

There was a clear indication at the end of the last book that there would be more adventures for Atticus – are you ready to follow?

In ‘The Map of Half Maps’ Atticus and his motley crew continue their journey in search of treasure – “with a new map and a new plan…” and lots of comradery along the way.

The misfit crew make you wonder how their ship could actually function, but there’s a lot of fun in that too. Let our mind drift away on the high seas as they sail about trying to find their way to treasure.

The dangers they face on the sea are unknown. The perils they may meet are scary – should they fear the Vikings or the crew of Pegasis? What battles will they have to overcome?

Once again, there are many interesting additions to the story. These include inventions like Atticus’ way to communicate to the crew (his version of morse code) and the illustrative skills of Buttface (which enables the capture of a map – from a deadman…).

Author & illustrator – Source: the inside cover of Book 2

Throughout, the comical illustrations of Stephen Michael King continue to boost the fun in the story – as do the adventures of Stowaway Puppy. (Have you been watching these? will he make an impact in the story?)

Also throughout the story are the developing relationships of the crew, as they come to know and appreciate one another’s talents and foibles. (What’s it like to have a twin sister? Does Wrong Way Warren actually have the right way of looking at things?)

There are also some fun introductions like the Viking group of Bjorn, Benny, Agnes and Anna-Firdi (ring a bell?). Will they be able to continue to sing together if Atticus defeats Bjorn Ironhead? And there are so many other questions to be answered:

  • Will Bjorn ever sing again?
  • What happens when pirates confront one another on the high seas?
  • Will they eventually find the missing treasure map?
  • Will there be another book in this series? (Yes, ‘the Treasure of Treasures’ follows soon!)
  • “How good is pirating”?

Once again, recommended sharing with the family. And readers 9+ (who will want to share with their family).

When the Ground is Hard

Living in Swaziland, Adele’s mother wants a better life for her daughter. Even though her father lives at a distance with his other family, Adele is well-supported and goes to a private school.

However, Adele finds things have changed when she returns to her boarding school after term-break. Her position in the ‘top girl’ group has been taken – by a girl whose father is more wealthy than her own. Worse still, she has been relegated to a room supposedly haunted by a dead student, and one she will share with an impoverished student, below her own social status.

Lottie is a uniquely bold student; either in spite of or because of her poor background. She is at Keziah Christian College as a supported student on a scholarship, and she takes no nonsense from anyone, even challenging teachers at times.

In contrast, Adele likes to keep things on an even keel. That is until her struggle with the top girls becomes heated and she has to choose a new path to get through the school term.

‘When the Ground is Hard’ is told by Malla Nunn, who was born in Swaziland and attended a mixed-race boarding school. The struggles of Adele and Lottie echo her own (and her mother’s) experiences in this #ownvoice story, as they battle to rise above the prejudices of racial segregation.

I wanted to tell a story that honoured the women and girls with whom I grew up – strong, brave, broken, vain, furious – girls who struggled to find their place in a racially segregated world where they, and I, were kept down for no good reason. (From Malla Nunn’s website.)

Adele and Lottie’s friendship is slow-growing but beautifully developed as they reluctantly team together.  Once Adele’s changed status at school opens her eyes to the levels of prejudices and hardships faced by mixed-race girls and women (particularly strong in the 1960s when the novel is set) they begin to bond. Cleverly, this is enhanced as they read Jane Eyre together, and reflect on Jane’s experiences and their own destinies.

A book which touches on many issues. Highly recommended 14+

# Available as ebook.

Are You Watching?

Reality TV meets murder mystery. That’s what Vincent Ralph has created in this tale of mystery and suspense.

In a contemporary English school/home setting, Jessica Simmons decides to apply for a social media program, the Eye, which is to be broadcast live on YouTube. However, her purpose is not for instant fame and fortune, but to track down her mother’s murderer – a man who has become a serial killer since her death 10 years ago, when Jessica was 7.

Much of what happened to her mother was hidden from her by her protective father. Even how he explained her murder was lightly sugar-coated as he explained that the killer was like a magpie, gathering pretty things – hence his label, Magpie Man.

In short, sharp chapters, we learn how Jessica plans to ‘out’ her mother’s killer, as long as she can get enough audience exposure and stay on the Eye. And those short, sharp chapters edge you quickly along…

We see her life, filmed live once a week, then captured into critical vignettes, for viewing by an avid audience. Her desperate acts sometimes seem crazy (just like the heroes in horror movies investigating dark and dank locations), and you will ponder the plausibility of some things that occur; but this is a page-turner, so just let it happen.

There awkward situations for Jessica and her friends, and twists and turns to confuse your choice of the killer’s identity. Will he be identified before he kills again? Who can she trust? And what will come of the brash challenges Jessica makes to her mother’s murdered? Is he watching?

Recommended 14+

# In this day and age, would it be realistic to bait a killer on social media?

## Do you think your parents would allow you to broadcast your life in this way anyway?

###  Available as ebook and audiobook also.

CBCA Older Readers Shortlist 2020

Today’s online announcement of this year’s shortlist was presented from different locations by a variety of authors and illustrators. (The presenters’ announcements can be viewed from here.)

As stated by Prof. Hillel at today’s ceremony:

“Now, more than ever, our young people need relatable and inspiring characters and stories that uplift and entertain, bring them hope and help them to find a way through issues they face in their daily lives and in the wider world.”

2020 Older Readers Shortlist

So many books to choose from on the Notables list; narrowed to these six on the shortlist for 2020. Time to get reading!

# The shortlist for other categories can also be viewed here on the CBCA website.

## Winners will be announced at noon on Friday, August 21, 2020.

Waste Not Everyday

As the COVID-19 virus eats into our grocery and other supplies, perhaps it’s time, while we cool our heels at home, to reconsider our consumption.

In ‘Waste Not Everyday: Simple Zero-Waste Inspiration 365 Days a Year’ Erin Rhoads provides tips for every day of the year of ways towards making simple lifestyle changes so that our impact on the world is less about waste and more about meaning.

Today, as we are encouraged to stay at home, and perhaps ration our consumption a whole lot more, it is worth looking at the framework she proposes in her book, including the tenents we all know:

              • reduce
              • reuse
              • refuse
              • recycle

There are several others she proposes (her list includes 11 steps) but it is the order of her framework that matters.

You’ll note that recycling is towards the end. This is because the act of recycling is not the way to fix the problem: instead it simply delays items … from ending up in landfill. (From the introduction of Waste Not Everyday.)

There are lots of simple ideas in this book like, buying your fruit and vegetables loose – and then making sure you display them to ensure you eat them, supporting local growers markets and choosing seasonal foods. There are many tips and recipes for things like cleaners, shampoos and weedkiller – all better for the environment than most commercial varieties.

However, much of the book is to make us pause and think. Do we need more? Is there a better way? Can I repurpose something? Use it longer? Repair it?

A timely page I opened to today said:

# 162 Don’t let scary statistics weigh you down: channel energy into changes you can make in your home or community.

At this time of change in our world, it certainly can’t hurt to look at some of the 365 options Rhoads has gathered together in this book – and start to make a difference – a genuine impact on the future of our planet.

# This is also available as an ebook from many sources – an even better option?

Atticus Van Tasticus (Younger Readers)

Suspend all normal thinking. Suspend being a normal ten-year-old. Atticus wants to be a pirate!

He may not have known that, on the morning of his tenth birthday; but once he found his gift of choice at his Grandnan’s, that’s what he wanted to be.

In this rollicking tale from Andrew Daddo, Atticus does indeed become the leader of his pirate ship – once he has gathered together a motley crew. It is a story which will be enjoyed by kids and parents alike with fabulous quirky illustrations from Stephen Michael King, and hilarious asides from many curious characters. (Can you identify a certain world leader among these characters?)

Daddo plays with fun crew members –  Stinkeye, Fishface, Hogbreath, Wrong Wat Warren and more – and fun Aussie phrases like “landing like a butterfly with sore feet” and “(his breath was) worse than a fur seal on a hot day”. (Clearly, there is a lot here from his experience of growing up in a household of 4 brothers and 1 sister, living near the sea…)

‘Atticus Van Tasticus: It’s a pirate life for me’ is the first in the series (with The Map of Half Maps also published, and The Treasure of Treasures is due out soon.) All the books are more than just words on a page, so pause and read the illustrations too. And pause and think about the inventiveness of the crew of the pirate ship, Grandnan.

Older readers and parents might like to actually hear thoughts from the author in this interview from last year when Atticus was first launched. (You will need Facebook access.).

And here’s a small book trailer introduction to the first book.

A fabulous example of NOT suspending your imagination, and letting it roll about as much as you want. And another marvellous collaboration between author and illustrator, each contributing their own amazing talents to a fun series. Recommended reading for 8+ and their families!

#Who is your favourite character in this series?

## Available as ebook.

Reading – from a social distance

Better than toilet paper…

As COVID-19 now demands a greater degree of social distancing in Australia, it is likely that public libraries will be closed in most locations this week.

Already practising the required hygiene demands of sanitiser and distancing, our local library faced a steady flow of residents getting book piles ready for home isolation recently, before closure.

Then, it is likely that with closures, we will have to rely on what we have at home and virtual spaces to fulfil our reading needs (though some bookshops are offering free local deliveries). Here are a few ideas – some free others at individual cost):

With library membership – examples:

Borrowbox – Borrow eBooks and eAudiobooks free from your library using our BorrowBox app.

RBDigitial – offers eMagazines and eAudiobooks for download. To borrow, you will need a valid local library membership card and password. Register with RBDigital.

Storybox Library – created for children to view stories by Australian authors and illustrators

Free access:

Loyal Books – free public domain audio and ebooks.

Audiobooks on Spotify – search at spotify.com for audiobooks/playlist. This post explains the finer details of doing this search to get what you want.

Paid subscriptions:

Audible / Amazon – Your first Audible book is free, then a choice of subscription applies. Some ebooks available free on Amazon – time to try the classic selection? (maybe start with a trial / limited period?)

# Another alternative may simply be to tackle your own TBR pile?

## Can you suggest any other sources?

### Don’t forget to check out your public or school library’s eResources too.

Indie Awards 2020 Announced

Indie Awards 2020 Winners

The winners for the Indie Awards (a unique award recognising and rewarding the best Australian writing as chosen by Australian Independent Booksellers) was announced today.

Included in the shortlist announced in January were many fabulous books, including one reviewed here – Dumplings anyone? – a winner in 2020.

If you need inspiration or suggestions for book purchases, then these are lists to consider.

It is also interesting to read the responses of award winners and how these awards affect/inspire their writing journeys.

“Winning the Indie Book Awards in the Young Adult Category is such an incredible honour. The book industry is so indebted to the brilliance and passion of independent booksellers, so to be recognised by these the cornerstones of the industry, it’s really a dream come true. Thank you so much to all the booksellers from the bottom of my heart for championing THE SURPRISING POWER A GOOD DUMPLING.” —The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling by Wai Chim (Allen and Unwin Children’s)

# With some bookshops offering (free) delivery to homes at this time of social distancing, why not get a few of these titles in at home?

Are you prepared?

How tall is your TBR pile?

What do you have ready in case you have to stay at home for a period of time? Aside from the pile of TBRs beside your bed, have you thought about access to:

1. Local/state/national libraries

2. Ebooks

3. Audiobooks

4. Bookshop deliveries

These are some of the options I am pondering. Unfortunately, some local libraries (or their branches) are closing or limiting their services. It’s a good idea to get in and borrow physical books NOW.

Be sure you have some membership of a local library – you will need to present physically for this, so do it NOW. This will enable access to ONLINE RESOURCES (ebooks and audiobooks) when libraries shutdown.

(Just don’t stay too long and be socially aware of your distance.)

Membership to State and National libraries enable access to databases and resources you may need for school/research purposes. And local library membership enables this too. [All HS students should access these options.]

Then, as things tighten down and you have to stay close to home, many bookshops are offering free local deliveries. Just ask your local bookshop what they are offering.

Derek Dool Supercool (Younger readers)

With so many great YA books about, it’s not often I pick up and review something for younger readers. However, I have just chuckled my way through the first book of ‘Derek Dool Supercool’ series – ‘Bust a Move’.

Young readers will love Derek, as he tries to convince everyone else at his school that he is as cool as he thinks himself. Especially if he can win the dance-off at Rutthill’s school disco!

Even though Derek often has other kids laughing at him (they get points if they doink him on the head in their handball games), and he is on permanent litter duty at lunchtime, he somehow still believes he is the COOLEST, FUNNIEST and most HANDSOME kid at school!

This book is full of fun characters – including Derek who’s ego is bigger than most, his “friends” Booger and Big Denise, and his arch-enemy, Carmichael Cruz. Author Adrian Beck brings them all to life through their over-exaggerated actions and emotions. We learn little things about them in short sections within the story – e.g. how Booger gets his name.

Characters Big Denise, Derek and Booger from the back cover.

Add to this wildly entertaining illustrations from Scott Edgar, and you have a great book for a relaxing but fun read. Even the text and page layout are enjoyable. Words jump out at you. Dad Jokes appear. And special characters, Gilbert and Gertie, make sarcastic comments about what is likely to happen in the story.

This is probably a book for 8+ age group, but who’s going to stop anyone older investigating what younger readers are laughing about? A fun book for the family/class to share.

# The good news is that Derek, Booger and Big Denise return in ‘Derek Dool Supercool – Going Viral’ book very soon!