Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Eight Great New Books for Children Aged 3-10 years

In this post, I’ve gathered together four new picture books for children aged 3 to 7 years, plus four chapter books for slightly older independent readers aged 7-10 years.

1. 'Ellie's Dragon' by Bob Graham


Anyone who reads this blog will know that I'm a huge Bob Graham fan. As usual, this book doesn't disappoint. With his usual economy of well-chosen words Graham traverses the experiences of childhood and lands in an interesting place - no friendship is imaginary. 

As a toddler, no doubt following a parent around the supermarket, she finds a newborn dragon emerging from an egg carton on a supermarket shelf. Scratch becomes her constant companion. Her mum and her teacher don't seem to see her cute and fiery friend, even though her friends can. Scratch grows over the years and so does Ellie. Scratch was with her at all of her birthdays, and as she grows, so does he. The worlds of Scratch and Ellie also grow larger too. But what happens as worlds change and so do we? You'll need to read the book to find out!

This is a beautiful tale that explores the imaginative world of the child and how this can intersect and diverge from the other 'real' world experiences of others. The usual Bob Graham literary and artistic genius is on display.


2.  'Bear in Space' by Deborah Abela & illustrated by Marjorie Crosby-Fairall

Bear is different from other bears and so when he plans to fly into space, his other bear friends just laugh. But Bear knows he can change his world. He also knows lots about space, but I'm not sure that his friends listen much! He prepares for his great adventure not quite sure what to expect, and what surprises he has in store when he finds himself in the very different quietness of space.

This is a lovely and extremely imaginative story that seems (as much as an adult can tell) to have captured something of the imaginative explorations of the young child. I'm sure that many listeners and readers will see themselves in this delightful picture book.

The brightly coloured illustrations of Marjorie Crosby-Fairall also help to bring this story to life. Her representation of the lovable and clever 'Bear' adds greatly to the experience of reading or hearing the book.



3. 'Dry to Dry - The Seasons of Kakadu' by Pamela Freeman and illustrated by Liz Anelli

This wonderfully illustrated factual picture book introduces young readers to one of Australia's most beautiful and ancient places, where Australia's Indigenous people have lived for at least 60,000 years. It is a follow-up to the award winning 'Desert Lake'. It tells of the yearly weather cycle across this ancient and beautiful land. 
In the tropical wetlands and escarpments of Kakadu National Park, seasons move predictably from dry to wet and back to dry again. Most of Australia has four seasons like other nations, but Kakadu has two! And these two seasons are marked by extraordinary change and diversity in plants, animals, birds, insects and the incredible migratory birds that come during the 'Wet' season. But there's more! There is a movement of insects, lizards, and water dwelling creatures (like fish, turtles and crocodiles), not to mention fruit bats and the changes in flowers and grasses. What I like this book and the 'Desert Lake' is that they offer two texts on each two-page spread. One to be read by or to the children, and a second short smaller font text at the bottom of each page, with more technical language for the teacher and older readers. There is also an excellent more detailed description of Kakadu at the end of the book with some Indigenous words translated. Finally, there's a wonderful map of Kakadu that children will love, as well as a detailed index.

4. 'Kookaburra' by Claire Saxby and illustrated by Tannya Harricks

This an exciting new addition to the narrative nonfiction "Nature Storybooks" series, about kookaburras. Another wonderful book from the exciting team of Claire Saxby an author well-known to children's literature fanatics like me! Her pairing with illustrator Tannya Harricks has been very successful. This their second collaboration and follows 'Dingo' that won the Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children's Literature in 2019. It was also shortlisted for the 2019 CBCA New Illustrator Award and Best Picture Book awards in 2019. It won the Royal Zoological Society of NSW Whitley Award in 2018. I just love Tannya's wonderfully 'simple' oil paintings. A perfect complement to the wonderful text.

In the crinkled shadows night-dwellers yawn, day-creatures stretch and Kookaburra laughs. Kook-kook-kook. Kak-kak-kak.  

This is a wonderful read aloud book, or a great personal read for children aged 5-8 years.


5. 'Weird Little Robots' by Carolyn Crimi & illustrated by Corinna Luyken


When two science-savvy girls create an entire robot world, they don’t expect the robots to come alive. But life may be a bit more magical than they thought.

This is a perfect book for 7-11 year-old readers. Penny Rose is a self-professed 'Science Geek' and is new in town. The robots she builds are her only company. But this is about to change when she becomes best friends with Lark and joins a secret science club. And with this, comes an amazing discovery, they are live robots! The once lonely girl has a new and very much changed life.

But then a fateful misstep forces her to choose between the best friend she’s always hoped for and the club she’s always dreamed of, and in the end it may be her beloved little robots that pay the price. 

This wonderfully quirky book will appeal to many readers, but I suspect that it will have a special appeal for the intelligent child who likes to imagine the unlikely and unexpected.


6. 'Agents of the Wild - Operation Honeyhunt' by Jennifer Bell & Alice Lickens


This creatively titled book for  7-10 year old readers will appeal to the creative child with a great imagination who loves to explore, discover and solve mysteries.

When 8-year-old Agnes is signed up for SPEARS (the Society for the Protection of Endangered and Awesomely Rare Species), she has no idea of the adventures that lie ahead with her elephant-shrew mentor Attie (short for “Attenborough”). 'Operation Honeyhunt' sends them to the Atlantic forest, on a mission to save an endangered, dance-loving bee named Elton. Will Agnes pass the test and become a full SPEARS agent? Species in danger? Girl and shrew to the rescue!

Jennifer Bell is the author of the bestselling 'The Uncommoners' series, which has sold over 50,000 copies in the UK. Alice Lickens contributes the wonderful illustrations that combine a simple two-colour pallette with striking images with a stunningly effective use of colour.

The book also comes with a fascinating array of end-matter, including fun-facts, and additional details about the real species in the book. I love this book and already have an eight year-old in mind to give it to.


7. 'Fish Kid and the Mega Manta Ray' by Kylie Howarth

This is a follow up book to 'Fish Kid and the Lizard Ninja' which was the first book in the series. The series of books features a 'superhero' who has some very special skills. This time his Nan is lost. Will he be able to find her? It seems that problems are never very far away from the special kid. 

Trouble finds its way to Fish Kid’s shores once more in his second adventure! Will Fish Kid be able to find his missing Nan, hide his powers from Pops and save the day? Only with the help of Freckles the Mega Manta Ray.

Having swam with the Whale Sharks and Manta Rays on Ningaloo Reef off the incredible Western Australian coast, I was always going to love this book! The book's engaging and funny story is also filled with lots facts about sea creatures and wonderful illustrations. A great combination of fiction, humour and knowledge from this talented author/illustrator.


8. 'Hattie' by Frida Nilsson & illustrated by Stina Wirsén


This is a wonderful new novel for readers aged 7-10 years by internationally known Swedish author Frida Nilsson.

Hattie is a street-smart country girl in her first year of school. She lives just outside of nowhere, right next to no one at all. Luckily she's starting school and that brings new adventures.

Having driven large tracts of Sweden, living 'just outside nowhere' was always bound to be a special place. Her house is read like many, there are ducks and hens that wander where they will. Hattie has dog, like to swim and 'falls madly in love with a hermit crab', and meets a best friend.This is a funny little book from a talented internationally acclaimed writer. It will be quickly read by precoscious and interesting children who love fun and exploring their world. Ideal as a read aloud or a book for readers aged 7-10 to enjoy alone, or with a friend!