Squidge Dibley Destroys the School by Mick Elliott

Squidge DibleyTitle: Squidge Dibley Destroys the School

Author: Mick Elliott

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Lothian Children’s Books

Published: 25th June 2019

Format: Paperback

Pages: 175

Price: $14.99

Synopsis: Squidge Dibley is the new kid at Craglands South Primary … and the school might not survive him. The start of a hilarious new series about a very strange class, perfect for fans of Weirdo, Funny Kid and Tom Gates.

Things are going downhill fast for class 6PU at Craglands South Primary School. They’ve changed teachers more times than most kids change their socks, and their latest one is so strict they aren’t even allowed to sneeze. But just when it seems like the school term has been turned into a prison term, a new kid arrives.
A kid unlike any other kid at Craglands South.
A kid named Squidge Dibley.
He’s small, quiet and strangely … squidgy.
And he’s about to change everything.

SQUIDGE DIBLEY DESTROYS THE SCHOOL is book one in a hilarious new series by Mick Elliott, author of THE TURNERS, and features his unforgettable cartoon-style illustrations on every page.

~*~

Padman O’Donnell is in year six at Craglands South Primary School – and is in a class that churns through teachers faster than anyone could ever imagine. One day, the only teacher who has managed to survive the longest it taken away sick, and the class has to be taught by Vice Principal Hoovesly – who has so many rules, he starts to make them up as he goes just to have a reason to punish the class – for breathing, for gasping, for trying to learn. Until the day Squidge Dibley arrives. Unlike any other student, Squidge has a variety of unusual diseases that make him burp, stretch, and explode when exposed to certain elements and noises – something that kids will find very amusing if they enjoy this kind of humour.

Each time a teacher tries to make Squidge do something, he produces a note – informing the teacher of what not to do and why, resulting in various incidents where the teacher, in many cases, Vice Principal Hoovesly, is thwarted in what he is trying to do. As the narrator, Padman provides his thoughts and impressions on each student and the teachers, so everything that happens is seen through his eyes. However, Hoovesly is quite an awful person, so even Principal Shouthmouth (called that because nobody in the story can pronounce her real name) is keen to see him get what he deserves. When a teacher forbids sneezing – something you can’t control, drastic measures must be taken.

The first in a new series, this is sure to capture the imaginations of younger readers with the cartoon-like illustrations that complement the text, and the fun characters who cause mischief, but when it counts, really come together and utilise their unusual talents and tricks to help their new friend, Squidge. Every character in this novel is different and has a quirk that makes them unique. It is these differences that are celebrated throughout the book, as they should be in real life as well.

This is a great book for primary school readers looking for a bit of fun and difference in their reading, and is a good, quick read as well.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – 20th Anniversary House Editions by JK Rowling

Azkaban 20 RavenclawTitle: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – 20th Anniversary House Editions

Author: J.K. Rowling

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Bloomsbury Australia

Published: 13th June 2019

Format: Paperback

Pages: 468

Price: Hardback – $27.99 Paperback – $16.99

Synopsis:Let the magic of J.K. Rowling’s classic Harry Potter series take you back to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Issued to mark the 20th anniversary of first publication of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, this irresistible Ravenclaw House Edition celebrates the noble character of the Hogwarts house famed for its wit, learning and wisdom. Harry’s third year at Hogwarts is packed with thrilling Ravenclaw moments, including the appearance of the inimitable Professor Trelawney!

With vibrant sprayed edges in Ravenclaw house livery, the book features beautiful house-themed cover artwork with intricate bronze foiling. With an exciting, bespoke introduction exploring the history of Ravenclaw House, and exclusive insights into the use of the Patronus Charm by favourite Ravenclaw characters, the book also boasts a spectacular image by Kate Greenaway winner Levi Pinfold of Cho Chang conjuring her Patronus. All seven books in the series will be issued in these highly collectable, beautifully crafted House Editions, designed to be treasured and read for years to come.

A must-have for anyone who has ever imagined sitting under the Sorting Hat in the Great Hall at Hogwarts waiting to hear the words, ‘Better be RAVENCLAW!’

Gryffindor: Harry’s third year at Hogwarts sees more great Gryffindor moments and characters – including Harry’s mastery of that most advanced of charms, the Patronus – not to mention four of the most memorable alumni, Messrs Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs.

Hufflepuff: Harry’s third year at Hogwarts sees more great Hufflepuff moments and characters, not least their Quidditch team’s triumph over under their captain – and Hufflepuff heart-throb – Cedric Diggory.

Ravenclaw: Harry’s third year sees more great Ravenclaw moments and characters -not least Harry’s first highly perfumed lesson with the inimitable Professor Trelawney, who – true to her house – proves to have exceptional mental powers.

Slytherin: Harry’s third year sees more great Slytherin moments and characters – including Professor Snape’s masterful potion-making, and Draco Malfoy’s typically sneaky attempt to sabotage the Gryffindor Seeker.

~*~

Each year for the past three years, Bloomsbury had released house editions for each of the first three novels in the much-loved Harry Potter series. This year, 2019, marks twenty years since the third, and my favourite novel, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkabanwas published in 1999. In his third year, Harry returns to Hogwarts after notorious mass murderer, Sirius Black has escaped from the wizard prison, Azkaban. The entire wizarding world has believed that Sirius murdered twelve Muggles and fellow wizard, Peter Pettigrew not long after Voldemort killed James and Lily Potter and failed to kill Harry. But there is more to Sirius’ story than everyone thinks they know.

Azkaban 20 Gryffindor

Throughout the year, Hogwarts hosts the Dementors from Azkaban – guards you drain the happiness out of everything and can only be expelled with the use of the very advanced Patronus charm. Finally, in this novel, Harry has a decent Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher in Professor Remus Lupin – who knows to distribute chocolate after a Dementor attack and teaches his students more than they have learned with their previous teachers, especially Gilderoy Lockhart. Lupin’s presence and the arrival of Sirius are perhaps why this is my favourite – they provide a link to Harry’s parents and early life in the wizarding world he never thought he had or would ever have.

It is also where the story begins to get darker, and has a sinister feel creeping in, that starts to lead into what is to come in books four to seven to conclude the series. As Harry gets older, each book gets longer and darker – and the rest of the house editions will be released on dates to be announced.Azkaban 20 Hufflepuff

In the house editions for the third book, the house content for the four houses: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin, revolves around key moments and characters linked to the story, as per the above descriptions, and look at the Patronus’s for four key characters: an otter for Hermione Granger, the wolf for Nymphadora Tonks, a swan for Cho Chang and the doe for Snape. These are attached to an overview of the Patronus Charm. The House Specific content in each book adds to the story and gives more insight into the Wizarding World and the characters who populate it. It makes for a rich reading experience for new and old readers of the series.

Azkaban 290 Slytherin

I am enjoying collecting these house editions, particularly the Ravenclaw ones, and am looking forward to seeing how Ravenclaw house is explored in future books.

Stasi 77 by David Young

Stasi 77Title: Stasi 77

Author: David Young

Genre: Historical Fiction/Crime

Publisher: Zaffre

Published: 3rd June 2019

Format: Paperback

Pages: 384

Price: $19.99

Synopsis:A gripping and evocative crime thriller set in East Germany.

A secret State. A dark conspiracy. A terrible crime.

Karin Müller of the German Democratic Republic’s People’s Police is called to a factory in the east of the country. A man has been murdered – bound and trapped as a fire burned nearby, slowly suffocating him. But who is he? Why was he targeted? Could his murderer simply be someone with a grudge against the factory’s nationalisation, as Müller’s Stasi colleagues insist? Why too is her deputy Werner Tilsner behaving so strangely?

As more victims’ surface, it becomes clear that there is a cold-blooded killer out there taking their revenge. Soon Muller begins to realise that in order to solve these terrible crimes, she will need to delve into the region’s dark past. But are the Stasi really working with her on this case? Or against her?

For those who really run this Republic have secrets they would rather remain uncovered. And they will stop at nothing to keep them that way…

A gripping and evocative crime thriller, moving between the devastating closing weeks of the Second World War and the Stasi-controlled 1970s, Stasi 77 is David Young’s most compelling and powerful novel yet.

~*~

The fourth book in the Karin Müller series sees Karin investigating deaths at a factory that was once the site of a terrible massacre at the end of World War Two during a Nazi death march from one of the concentration camps. At the same time, she is raising her young twins – Johannes and Jannika, born in Stasi Wolf the second book. Karin begins the investigation, but senses there is more to what is happening than her Stasi colleagues insist.

Soon, she works out that the victims are all linked somehow, and that the killer is taking revenge for past wrongs during the years of Nazi rule in Germany, and Karin must look into the past of Germany and the region, and uncovers secrets that many people had hoped would stay hidden – secrets that the Stasi is willing to end careers over and cover up for certain people.

It is clear from the start that there is a link to Nazi Germany, as the novel moves back and forth between 1945 and 1977, culminating in the final discoveries in the last chapters.

It is a world that has been touched by the extremes of fascism, and Nazism between 1933 and 1945, after a decade and a bit of the Weimar Republic, and the extremes of Communism, and finding ways to sneak access to items from the West, or threatening to tell the West German media about the secrets the Stasi is content to hide, even if it means harming people to do so. It is a world that Karin has grown up in, yet on some levels, is starting to question, or at least question the morality of ignoring a horrific past that has scarred many and continues to do so.

The issues explored in this series are deeply political, reminding us of where extremes, especially right-wing extremes of fascism, and the need to control everything, can end up. Communism was probably not the answer to end the Nazi regime. Both regimes penalised people for certain things, and created a society of distrust, much like is happening today – and the small things Karin says and does to some characters are examples of her attempt to undermine the system that hides the dark secrets of Nazis and the Stasi.

It deftly explores these conflicts, whilst reflecting the harsh realities of how citizens were treated and how the slightest infraction that these days would seem ridiculous to report to police, can almost ruin a life. Karin must work within the system to achieve the outcomes she seeks, yet at the same time, find a way to outsmart it without endangering her life, career and the lives of her family. It is a satisfying, yet dark read, as well as a very compelling story and page turner. It is a great addition to the series.

Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers

Mary Poppins novel .jpgTitle: Mary Poppins

Author: P.L. Travers

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: HarperCollins

Published: 2016 (First published 1934)

Format: Paperback

Pages: 192

Price: $14.99

Synopsis:Discover the joy and wonder of Mary Poppins in the classic adventures!

The original best-loved classic about the world’s most famous nanny – Mary Poppins.

When the Banks family advertise for a nanny, Mary Poppins and her talking umbrella appear out of the sky, ready to take the children on extraordinary adventures.

Mary Poppins is strict but fair, and soon Michael and Jane are whisked off to a funfair inside a pavement picture and on many more outings with their wonderful new nanny!

Needless to say, when at last ‘the wind changes’ and she flies away, the children are devastated. But the magic of Mary Poppins will stay with the Banks family forever.

The original story of the world’s most famous nanny, Mary Poppins, is a timeless classic that has enchanted generations.

~*~

For many people, their first introduction to Mary Poppins was probably the 1964 Disney movie starring Julie Andrew and Dick van Dyke, and for kids these days, possibly 2018’s Mary Poppins Returns with Emily Blunt and Lin Manuel Miranda. However, the story and the characters we love (some of which were fleshed out in the movie adaptation) were created long before Disney brought them to life. Created in 1934 by P.L. Travers, the pen name of Helen Goff, Mary sprang from the imagination of an Australian writer, who was born in Maryborough, Queensland. The story of her life and fight with Walt Disney over the movie adaptation are part of another book I hope to read this year.

When Katie Nanna leaves the Banks household, an advert is put out for a new nanny. Soon after, Mary Poppins arrives – quite suddenly and with the East Wind. She enters Cherry Tree Lane, and is soon taking Jane and Michael, and the Twins – John and Barbara (omitted from the movie) on adventures to buy gingerbread, to meet her uncle who has tea parties on the ceiling and communicates with dogs in the neighbourhood, convincing other residents of Cherry Tree Lane to do the proper thing.

Jane and Michael watch this in awe and are quite taken with their new nanny. Strict but fair, Mary Poppins encourages her charges to behave – with perhaps a little less whimsy and magic than her film counterpart, but to Jane and Michael, anything she does is wondrous.  As we all know, Mary Poppins does not stay longer than she is needed – and must leave on the West Wind. As this was originally written as a series, there are hints that she will be back – and hopefully, the rest of the series will be read and reviewed here soon.

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The magic of the book Mary Poppins is in the way she appears, disappears and takes the children to areas of London they never knew existed. It is in the way Mary Poppins comes filled with wonder, a flying umbrella and medicine that changes flavour for the person having it. Of course, all these things made it into the movie, plus more. A much-loved classic, the book, much like the movie, has its own charm and magic that will enchant readers of all ages for generations to come.

Though set in England during the 1930s, in contrast to the 1910 setting of the film and 1935 setting of the recent follow-up, Mary Poppins will always be a classic of Australian literature. It may not be as Australian as Seven Little Australians, or the Magic Pudding, but it still falls under Australian writers and literature. Mary Poppins might be properly English, but as we know, she is also practically perfect in every way, and her creator is very much Australian.

A good read for all ages.

Book Bingo Twelve – A Novella no more than 150 pages

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Another fortnight, and that means round twelve of Book Bingo 2019 with Theresa and Amanda, and the first for June. Wow, that rolled around fast! This week, I am ticking off a novella no less than 150 pages – and being a little sneaky about it and using a kids book that is less than 150 pages, as I have been struggling to find a novella – everything seems to end up being too long for this one so far, hence my choice to go this way.

I chose the first book of the Deltora Quest series, The Forest of Silence by Emily Rodda for this one. A very popular series in the early 2000s and even now, it was one of those series that was always out at the library, so when I stumbled across the hardcover omnibus version, I grabbed it and have been working my way through it, reviewing each book individually with a plan to do a whole series review at the end as well.

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Lief has lived his entire life in a world where the Shadow Lord reigns, and where the Belt of Deltora has been lost, as have its magical gems. His parents, Anna and Jarred, send him on a quest to find each of the gems to restore power to the rightful heir and throne, and to bring peace back to the land of Del for all.

In the Lake of Tears, Lief will meet Jasmine as he seeks the Topaz with his companion, Barda, and from there, the trio will journey on towards other locations across the kingdom. In this fantasy series aimed at kids aged nine and older, there is something for everyone and it fits in perfectly as a novella.

Row One:

A book with a red cover: Children of the Dragon: Race for the Red Dragon by Rebecca Lim – #AWW2019*

Beloved Classic: Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner – AWW2018

A novel that has more than 500 pages:

A novella no more than 150 pages: Deltora Quest: The Forest of Silence by Emily Rodda – #AWW2019

Prize winning book:

BINGO!

I have read a book for each category in Row Four Down – a couple of these posts are yet to go live but this post and the bingo week posts for these books will reflect gaining a bingo. Row Four: – BINGO

Novella no more than 150 pages: Deltora Quest: The Forest of Silence by Emily Rodda – #AWW2019

Memoir about a non-famous person: Australia’s Sweetheart by Michael Adams

Themes of inequality: The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer – AWW2019

Book set in the Australian mountains: The Orchardist’s Daughter by Karen Viggers – AWW2019          

Written by an author over the age of 65: Miss Franklin: How Miles Franklin’s Brilliant Career began by Libby Hathorn – #AWW2019*

Romance: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Well, that brings me to the end of another book bingo fortnight and post, I’ll be back with more in two weeks.

Dread Mountain (Deltora Quest #5) by Emily Rodda

Dread Mountain.jpgTitle: Dread Mountain (Delotra Quest #5)

Author: Emily Rodda

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Scholastic Australia

Published: 1st August 2001

Format: Paperback

Pages: 120

Price: $14.99

Synopsis:Lief, Barda and Jasmine are on a perilous quest to find the seven lost gems of the magic Belt of Deltora. Only when all gems have been restored to the Belt can Deltora be freed from the tyranny of the evil Shadow Lord.

Four gems have been found. Now, though grave news reaches Lief from home and he longs to return, the quest must continue.

To find the fifth stone the heroes must venture almost to the border of the Shadowlands, and plunge into the darkness and terror of the realm of the monstrous toad Gellick — Dread Mountain.

~*~

Following their adventure in the Shifting Sands, Lief, Barda and Jasmine venture to Dread Mountain to face the horrible toad, Gellick, who is the Guardian of the emerald, embedded in his head. Here we are also introduced to kangaroo-like creatures called Kins, and they embark on another quest to get the emerald from Gellick. Each book reveals a little more about each character as well, and this time, they must convince Gellick to part with the stone.

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Much like the other books, they must go on a quest and tests to finally get to the stone, and push through dangers sent by the Shadow Lord to stop them – yet nothing has yet, and probably won’t by the end of the book. After this, they only have two stones left to find before they can journey back to Del and defeat the Shadow Lord and return the king to the throne.

Yet another great book in the series – filled with adventure and friendship, it shows kids that working together is a good thing, and this has been a theme I have found throughout the series and that I hope will continue – once I have finished this omnibus edition, I am planning on doing a wrap up post on the series as well. So these reviews have been short, but will be collated into one post when I am finished the series.

As each book builds on the other, there are hints dropped here and there about what is to come, but at the same time, many surprises that keep people engaged and reading on through each book, which shows just how popular this series is.

The Shifting Sands (Deltora Quest #4) by Emily Rodda

the shifting san ds.jpgTitle: The Shifting Sands (Deltora Quest #4)

Author: Emily Rodda

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Scholastic

Published: 1st July 2001

Format: Paperback

Pages: 132

Price: $14.99

Synopsis: When the seven gems of the magic Belt of Deltora were stolen, the evil Shadow Lord invaded the kingdom and enslaved its people.

Determined to rid their land of the tyrant, Lief, Barda and Jasmine are on a perilous quest to find the lost gems, which are hidden in fearsome places throughout the kingdom.

They have found three gems. Now they must seek the fourth, hidden in a shimmering, barren waste, kept jealously by an unknown guardian.

Separation, confusion and strange, terrible enemies await them in the ordeal of the Shifting Sands.

~*~

Lief, Barda and Jasmine are seeking the fourth gem – the lapis lazuli as they continue their journey through Del to help defeat the Shadow Lord and end the awful reign Del has been under for sixteen years. To do so, they have to venture into the dangerous shifting sands, and face yet more dangers and obstacles.

One of their obstacles – The Riftwere Games – takes up much of the book, shifting from the adventure of the rest. I think this worked very well – it was a different kind of challenge they had to face to get to the fourth stone, and it suited the story well, giving a small rest from adventure yet still engaging the reader and keeping the characters on their toes as they complete their quest.

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I’ve now read five of the eight books in the first Deltora Quest series – I had hoped to be finished it by now but have been busy with many other books and work and am working on getting to the end of this series and completing it for my challenges. Lief, Barda and Jasmine are a great team, and they work well together. To get to the Shifting Sands where they will find the lapis lazuli, they must compete in these games, and there is still an element of adventure in the games, it is just a bit more subtle than in the previous books. As they face each Guardian, a new challenge is posed and this is what makes the books interesting and interconnected as they move through the land of Del.

This was another great instalment in the series, and each book moves the characters and journey forward. They are quick reads, perfect for ages nine and up, and are engaging and fun to read.