ReadPlus is a collection of selected books and films arranged under themes. This web site provides lists, reviews and resources for librarians, teachers and parents about books for young people aged 5 to 18.
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Latest Review

Aug 16 2018

A first book of the sea by Nicola Davies

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Ill. by Emily Sutton. Walker Books, 2018. ISBN 9781406368956
(Ages: 3-7) Highly Recommended. Themes: Poetry. Oceans. Emily Sutton is a whimsical, traditional illustrator, whose work is perfectly suited to this earthy, old-fashioned and hearty collection of poems. The author and illustrator have collaborated successfully in the past on Tiny and Lots, and have now put together a hardcover book with over fifty short poems, perfect as a first book of poems for young ones but will also interest junior primary children. The poems are about oceans and ocean life and celebrate the vastness, mystique and intrigue of the great blue world that surrounds us. The book is separated into four categories, as shown within a contents page: down by the shore (Catching a wave, Paddling, Shore crab), journeys (Limpets, Sailor's jig, Blue whale's map), under the sea (Longline fishing, Seaweed jungle, Shipwreck) and wonders (Rockpool, Albatross, Sea people). The poems are helpfully titled so you know what each is going to be about and can pick based on children's interests. They also seem carefully curated to include favourite aspects of young readers (shipwrecks, deadly sea animals, sharks, giant squid, etc.).
The illustrations, beautifully textured and intricately detailed, are perfect and because of the large format and the brevity of the poems, are full partners rather than just an afterthought. While the author and illustrator are English the book isn't identifiably so (except for the poem about big shopping and entertainment piers that are not a feature of Australian beaches). The poems evoke the feelings of being in and around the sea, such as the thrill of catching a wave or searching for shells, but they also provide fascinating information that reminds us of the power and long history of the world's oceans ("The sea has shaped them, rubbing and rolling, rolling and rubbing, for a thousand, thousand years"). They remind us of how to take care of our oceans ("Deadliest of all is the plastic we throw away that strangles, suffocates and poisons"). They inform us of the wisdom of those who live in harmony with the sea ("the old man draws the night sky out in pebbles to teach his grandson the pattern of the stars") and about how man has learned to deal with the wildness of the sea ("From one to twelve runs Beaufort's Scale, to tell ships when it's safe to sail"). There are a wide variety of poem styles, some rhyming but most not.
There are many conversation points within the book and some poems openly encourage children to engage with the book (in "Favourite dolphin" the only text asks "Choose just one? It's impossible to pick!" and shows a plethora of dolphins of different varieties). The big fold-out page for the large humpback whale tells the reader how to sing like a humpback. The last poem, "Happiness", is a reminder of the simple pleasures of the sea ("Sand in my shoes. Salt in my hair. A pebble in my pocket. The horizon in my eyes"). Simple, evocative, glorious.
Nicole Nelson



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Aug 16 2018

Animal Ark: Puppy in peril by Lucy Daniels

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Orchard Books, 2018. ISBN 9781408354049
(Age: 6+) Recommended. Amelia and Sam are back with a new adventure. A poorly puppy is brought into Animal Ark, and nobody knows who it belongs to. Can Amelia and Sam find the owner and save the puppy? Amelia and Sam need all the help they can...
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Aug 13 2018

Maudlin Towers: Curse of the werewolf boy by Chris Priestley

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Bloomsbury, 2017. ISBN 9781408873083
(Age: 8+) Highly recommended. Themes: Horror, Werewolves, Teachers, Time travel. "Mildew and Sponge don't think much of Maudlin Towers, the blackened, gloom-laden, gargoyle-infested monstrosity that is their school. But when somebody steals the School...
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Aug 13 2018

Animal Ark: Kitten Rescue by Lucy Daniels

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Orchard Books, 2018. ISBN 9781408354148
(Age: 6+) Recommended. Amelia has just moved with her mum into Welford and she doesn't know anyone except her gran, who they are living with. Can she overcome her homesickness and help her new friend Sam to save the kittens with a little help from...
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Aug 09 2018

Moth by Isabel Thomas

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Ill. by Daniel Egneus. Bloomsbury, 2018. ISBN 9781408889756
(Age: All) Highly recommended. Themes: Moths. Evolution. Adaptation. Camouflage. STEM. Industrial Revolution. Survival. Pollution. Hope. This amazing book shows within easily understood language supported by the most powerful of...
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Aug 09 2018

The other wife by Michael Robotham

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Hachette, 2018. ISBN 9780733637933
(Ages: Senior secondary-Adult) Highly recommended. Themes: Crime. Thriller. Family relationships. Those familiar with Robotham's novels will be eager to read his next Professor Joe O'Lloughlin episode. It certainly does not disappoint! His writing flows...
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Aug 07 2018

The mapmakers' race by Eirlys Hunter

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Gecko Press, 2018. ISBN 9781776572038
(Age: 8-11) Themes: Perseverance. Adventure. Map drawing. Eirlys Hunter's The mapmakers' race is set in a harsh mountainous environment where a new railway line needs to be built. The alternate world has mechanical horses and luggage-carrying...
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Aug 07 2018

Sleep by Kate Prendergast

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Old Barn Books, 2018. ISBN 9781910646229
(Age: 3-6) Recommended. Themes: Animals. Sleep. Kate Prendergast's non-fiction picture book uses vivid illustrations to show where animals rest and sleep. Her bright close-up paintings use a colour palette reminiscent of 1960's children's books...
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Aug 03 2018

The strange fascinations of Noah Hypnotik by David Arnold

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Random House, 2018. ISBN 9780451480477
(Age: 15+) Highly recommended. Noah Oakman, is the classic anti-hero if ever there was one. To avoid the labour of time-consuming choices, he wears his own daily "uniform" - a t-shirt emblazoned with the name,"Bowie". He spends much of the book...
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Aug 03 2018

Minecraft: The Crash by Tracey Baptiste

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Century, 2018. ISBN 9781780897776
(Age: Teens) Bianca (the main character) is never one to plan ahead: she, like most people nowadays is 'act now deal with consciences later,' but on top of that she's a bit of a scatterbrain so most of the time it's 'act now have someone else deal with...
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Aug 03 2018

White rabbit red wolf by Tom Pollock

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Walker Books, 2018. ISBN 9781406378177
(Age: 14+) Recommended. Themes: Twins, Mental illness, Bullying, Genetic engineering, Spies, Murder Revenge, Deception. What starts off as a book about a boy with extreme anxiety issues quickly develops into a rollercoaster thriller. Peter Blankman...
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Aug 03 2018

Stink: Hamlet and Cheese by Megan McDonald

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Ill. by Peter H. Reynolds. Candlewick Press, 2018. ISBN 9780763691639
(Age: 8+) Themes: Humour, Shakespeare themes. Given the choice of staying home with his sister Judy, or going to Shakespeare camp, Stink takes the camp with his friend, Sophie of the Elves. She tells him that it will...
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Aug 02 2018

The boy at the back of the class by Onjali Q. Rauf

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Orion, 2018. ISBN 9781510105010
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. Themes: Friendship. Refugees. Bullying. Resilience. Tolerance. This is a really enjoyable story about 4 young friends at school who are intrigued by the mystery surrounding the new boy in the chair at the back of the class....
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Aug 02 2018

It looks like this by Rafi Mittlefehldt

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Candlewick Press, 2018. ISBN 9781536200430
(Age: 15+) Recommended. The cover reflects LGTBQ+ themes in one glance - rainbow silhouettes of two youths. Thankfully, neither the title nor the writing defines the narrator and main character. Fifteen year old Mike has a gentle temperament. He...
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Aug 02 2018

The magic spell by Linda Chapman

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My secret unicorn series. Penguin, 2018. ISBN 9780241354223
(Age: 6-8) Themes: Horses. Pets. Fantasy. Linda Chapman's My secret unicorn series has been republished for a new generation of girls who love horses, unicorns and magic. These simple, easy to read stories are...
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Aug 02 2018

Unofficial Minecraft STEM lab for kids by John Miller and Chris Fornell Scott

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Quarry Books, 2018. ISBN 9781631594830
Apparently, 74 million people play Minecraft each month, one of those is Miss 12 who is now hooked on coding, and many of whom are in schools where the game is being used in many scenarios as part of the everyday learning experience. For some time,...
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