Bad Guys Episode 12: The One? by Aaron Blabey

Title: Bad Guys Episode 12: The One?

Author: Aaron Blabey

Genre: Humour

Publisher: Scholastic Australia

Published: 1st October 2020

Format: Paperback

Pages: 192

Price: $15.99

Synopsis:  Seriously, what is going on with Snake? Terrifying powers! Evil allies! Interdimensional Doorways! What is his deal? And that’s not all! Why is Agent Fox suddenly so mysterious? Who IS she, exactly?! Dang it! We need answers! Wolf and the gang are back. And they’re even more confused than YOU!

The Bad Guys Episode 12. It will melt your brain…

~*~

Aaron Blabey has been writing the Bad Guys series, published by Scholastic, for the past five years. It’s an episodic series, almost like a television show, and told in a comic book style, using lots of illustrations. The Bad Guys are a crew of animals who are trying to reverse their bad deeds by doing good deeds. In episode twelve, Snake appears to have terrifying powers, and the other bad guys don’t know what to do about it – but Snake is determined to convince them otherwise. At the same time, there’s something happening with Agent Fox…everybody is confused!

Told in comic book format, Bad Guys episode 12, like the rest of the series, relies on the visuals and the speech bubbles to tell the story, and throws back to previous episodes in a similar way to television shows or serialised stories, so whilst I found it easy to read without having read the previous eleven, it will be more enjoyable, and more fun to read them all in order if you haven’t already.

The story revolves around the question of who is The One – but The One for what? Well, you’ll just have to read to find out!

Bad Guys is filled with humour throughout and follows the rag tag group of scary animals who want to do good things. Can they do it? Aaron Blabey has created a world for readers aged seven and older, that will engage reluctant readers, and readers across many levels will enjoy this addition to the series.  The graphic novel style will pull readers into the world visually, drawing on various cues and at times, prior knowledge of the first eleven books to fill in the gaps.

Of course, there is always that one character reminding everyone of danger, if something reminds him of a previous episode, or something that is worrying him, which is something the other Bad Guys get frustrated with. Each character is unique and brings something fresh and exciting to the series and this story. It is exciting and fun, and I’m sure fans of the series will devour this book.

It will encourage reluctant readers to take that next step in their reading journey, entertain all readers, and give kids an insight into a world they have delved into and invested in, as well as showing them new and innovative ways stories can be told in books, as novels, in a very visual way. It’s one where there has been as much care and attention given to the illustrations, and where readers must engage with the words and the images, as they do with picture books. Kids will love this book, and it will lead to many anticipating the next book. In the meantime, you will have twelve books to read and reread until the next one is released.

A funny and engaging book for all fans of Aaron Blabey. With thanks to Scholastic Australia for the review copy.

What Zola did on Wednesday by Melina Marchetta, illustrated by Deb Hudson

Title: What Zola did on Wednesday

Author: Melina Marchetta, illustrated by Deb Hudson

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Puffin

Published: 29th September 2020

Format: Paperback

Pages: 96

Price: $12.99

Synopsis: From the author of Looking for Alibrandi comes this gorgeous series to engage and entertain newly independent young readers.

Zola loves living on Boomerang Street with her mum and her nonna. Every day of the week is an adventure. But Zola has a problem. No matter how much she tries, she can’t keep out of trouble! Like on Wednesday, when Zola has a plan to help find her friend Sophia’s missing turtle . . .Collect all seven stories in the series. One for every day of the week.

~*~

Zola is always trying to keep out of trouble – so far, Mondays and Tuesdays are busy with community activities, but she has five other days to fill! Today though, her friend Sophia has lost her pet turtle. Zola and her cousin decide to use their dogs to help find the turtle, like PD Vesper. Surely nothing can go wrong?

Zola’s diverse world on Boomerang Street expands in this book as she runs down the street after her cousin’s dog Gigi. This vibrant world shows kids that everyone is different, and that these differences are everywhere. This powerful and lovely message is what we need these days – showing that kids in all colours and sizes are valid and beautiful, in this lovely and heartfelt diverse series that shows it is the content of your character that is just as important as how you identify, and that together, these aspects make you who you are.

In Zola’s quest to fund Sophia’s turtle, she inevitably causes more trouble – which will almost lead to a crisis, but Zola’s neighbours find a way to resolve it and create a Wednesday activity for the community.

This is the third book in the series that celebrates diversity, family, dogs, knitting and gardens, and how these simple things can bring a community together. These are stories that can be read to younger readers, or read alone, or used to help younger readers build their reading and comprehension confidence. It shows that caring about your community will eventually extend to helping and caring about the wider world. It takes complex themes and issues and makes them easy to understand, and universal for all kids and readers. Anyone can do what Zola and her friends do!

Good literature like this celebrates diversity, and how people’s differences are powerful and important, and these differences are what make life interesting and can also bring people together and unite them as a community. A great read for readers aged six and over.  

Marshmallow Pie the Cat Superstar on TV by Clara Vulliamy

marshmallow-pie-the-cat-superstar-on-tvTitle: Marshmallow Pie the Cat Superstar on TV

Author: Clara Vulliamy

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: HarperCollins

Published: 5th August 2020

Format: Paperback

Pages: 128

Price: $9.99

Synopsis: The second book in the Marshmallow Pie the Cat Superstar series by Clara Vulliamy, the author-illustrator of Dotty Detective. Perfect for fans of Toto the Ninja Cat or The Secret Life of Pets.

Marshmallow Marmaduke Vanilla-Bean Sugar-Pie Fluffington-Fitz-Noodle is a big, fluffy cat with an even BIGGER personality!

With the help of his owner, Amelia, Pie is well on his way to stardom. He’s got himself a role ON TV! But then he hears that he’ll be joined in the spotlight – by Gingernut, the cheeky kitten… Can Pie learn how to share, or will his biggest opportunity yet come tumbling down?

Told in the hilarious voice of Marshmallow Pie himself, his mischievous antics are illustrated throughout in black and white.

~*~

Welcome back to Marshmallow Pie’s world! It’s been a while since the auditions, and his human, Amelia, has started a newsletter, the Fluffington Post, when she finds out that Marshmallow Pie has been cast in a television commercial for his favourite snack! But when Marshmallow Pie finds out that Gingernut is going to be his co-star, things start to go wrong. As Amelia and Zack build their friendship, and work on the newspaper together, Marshmallow Pie gets jealous of Gingernut.

Marshmallow Pie needs to learn to share in this story – something that younger children can struggle with, and this kind of story can teach them about sharing through the child character, Marshmallow Pie. As part of a series, this book follows on nicely from the first, with the same fun storytelling through words and pictures, just right for junior fiction readers taking that next step into the world of independent reading. Gingernut and Zack are cemented as characters in the series in this book, and I hope we get to see more of them and their growing friendship with Amelia and Marshmallow Pie.

Like in the first book, this one explores themes of friendship, family, fun, shared interests and the growth of the child character upon realising they may have upset someone and working out how to fix it – either alone, or with help. Child readers will find someone to identify with, and learn various lessons about friendship and sharing whilst having fun with a good story that is entertaining, and filled with laughs.

I’m looking forward to seeing where Marshmallow Pie goes on his future adventures as a cat superstar.

 

Marshmallow Pie the Cat Superstar by Clara Vulliamy

marshmallow pie 1Title: Marshmallow Pie the Cat Superstar
Author: Clara Vulliamy
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: 5th August 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 128
Price: $9.99
Synopsis: A hilarious new series from Clara Vulliamy, the author-illustrator of Dotty Detective, about grumpy cat Marshmallow Pie and his reluctant pursuit of stardom. Perfect for fans of Toto the Ninja Cat or The Secret Life of Pets.
Marshmallow Marmaduke Vanilla-Bean Sugar-Pie Fluffington-Fitz-Noodle is a big, fluffy (and grumpy) cat. He LOVES the easy life: lazing in the sunshine, eating Shrimp Crunchies and annoying Buster, the dog downstairs.

His new owner, Amelia Lime, has grand plans to turn Pie into a STAR… But Pie thinks he’s a star already, to be honest!

Told in the hilarious voice of Marshmallow Pie himself, his mischievous antics are illustrated throughout in black and white.

~*~

Marshmallow Marmaduke Vanilla-Bean Sugar-Pie Fluffington-FitzNoodle has a new home. He’s not happy, because everyone there calls him Pie. When his new owner, Amelia, discovers that a local company is searching for new animal talent. Amelia convinces Marshmallow Pie that they should audition – and when they do, things get a little bit chaotic, because Pie thinks he IS a star!

Amelia is lonely, and Pie notices, and comes across as quite aloof and uppity – what people might see as being true to a cat. Yet there is heart to him and even though he sees this chance to show the world what a star he is. And prove to the humans in his life that he is more than just a cat. At the same time, he’s determined to annoy neighbour, Buster, in any way he can. But what mischief will Pie get up to when he and Amelia meet Zack and Gingernut at the auditions?

This new series is told through the eyes of Marshmallow Pie, observing life with the Lime family. Amelia and her dad are dedicated to each other and Pie, and for Amelia, Pie is a friend. He becomes her connection to other people and the outside world.

This book is delightful. It has two child characters who carry the story – Pie and Amelia, and each are given a delightfully unique voice that leaps from the page to entertain. The text works beautifully with the black and white illustrations that bring Amelia and Pie to life for readers. I love the idea of a cat telling the story – it can be done well, and Clara Vulliamy has done it here. It is a micro world with big characters, told in a way that readers aged seven and older will be able to access and understand.

This is the beginning of a delightful new series that kids, cats and adults will love, as it captures the delight of cats, and their various likes and personality traits. It is about family and friendship and the power of cats uniting friends through common interests as well. Marshmallow Pie is a character who learns a new lesson in each story, who will grow across the series. Readers of all ages will adore him and relate to him, as well as the other characters in the book. A great read!

Monty’s Island: Beady Bold and the Yum-Yams by Emily Rodda

Monty's Island 2Title: Monty’s Island: Beady Bold and the Yum-Yams
Author: Emily Rodda
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Published: 4th August 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 176
Price: $14.99
Synopsis: Monty lives on a perfect island in the middle of a magical sea. Sometimes the sea throws up something interesting … and Monty goes on an amazing adventure!
On a tiny island far away, in a sea that ripples with magic, Monty never knows what he might find…

Everyone loves Bring-and-Buy Day, when Trader Jolly visits the Island with all the supplies Monty and his friends need.

But this Bring-and-Buy day is different. Instead of Trader Jolly, there’s a sneaky new trader called Beady Bold. And he’s arrived with a boatload of trouble. The yum-yams are yummy, but they’re hiding a very scary secret.

All seems lost until Monty comes up with a daring plan.

A charming and exciting series from beloved author Emily Rodda.

~*~

Bring-and-Buy Day is coming! Monty and his friends are excited – they have their list, their Jinglebeads and a list ready for Trader Jolly and his crew. But when a new trader arrives, Beady Bold, everything starts to go wrong! He won’t give them what they need, won’t accept their Jinglebeads and will only offer them the mysterious yum-yams – yummy food with a danger behind it. So Monty comes up with a clever plan to save the day.

AWW2020The second book in the Monty’s Island series bring back the same characters from the first, with a few additions – the Weavers and Trader Jolly – to build the world and expand upon it in a way that is relevant to the story being told. This series allows children to go on adventure safely and face the world in a way they can access and relate to.

Much like the first book, the characters are diverse – Marigold and Monty are the only human characters, the rest are animals – and they each have their own personalities that make them fun and relatable for readers, both young and old. From Bunchy the elephant to Clink the parrot who acts like a pirate. Each character brings something unique to the story, which enriches it and shows children that it is okay to be different and need, or want, different things whilst working to the same common goal, and working together to achieve these goals.

Much like the first story, it is the little details in the story are what makes the story work, and with each story its own contained adventure, that is linked by characters and setting rather than plot, like Deltora Quest, which is aimed at readers aged nine and older, and a good step up from the new Monty’s Island books. Monty’s Island is perfect for early readers, just venturing into longer books, and it lots of fun for all readers as well of any age. There is something in it for every reader, and I hope readers will fall in love with this series by one of Australia’s best loved authors.

It is a wonderful addition to the series, and I looked forward to more.

 

What Zola did on Tuesday by Melina Marchetta, Illustrated by Deb Hudson

What Zola Did on TuesdayTitle: What Zola did on Tuesday
Author: Melina Marchetta, Illustrated by Deb Hudson
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Puffin Australia
Published: 4th August 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 96
Price: $12.99
Synopsis: From the author of Looking for Alibrandi comes this gorgeous series to engage and entertain newly independent young readers.
Zola loves living on Boomerang Street with her mum and her nonna. Every day of the week is an adventure. But Zola has a problem. No matter how much she tries, she can’t keep out of trouble! Like on Tuesday, when Zola tries to help Nonna knit a scarf . . .
Collect all seven stories in the series. One for every day of the week.

~*~

Zola has new neighbours – she can hear them every day. She also wants to help her Nonna knit a scarf, but she doesn’t know how. When Zola meets thew new neighbours, she finds out that their Teta – their Nonna – also knits and they come up with a plan to get their grandmother’s together to start a knitting club. But will it all work out?

Zola’s world celebrates everyday families and diversity. In this story, Zola meets the Muslim family next door, and finds out what makes them different, and also, the things about their families that are similar, and what connects them. Kids will learn about people who need help, and about different cultures in an accessible and easy to understand way that is age appropriate and leaves room for further exploration and questions to be asked and investigated.

AWW2020

This series sets out to celebrate gardens and knitting, family, animals and diversity, whilst giving kids the confidence they need to read on their own. This series also teaches kids about problem solving and caring for the wider world – doing what you can for other people, taking complex themes and issues, and using simple, easy to understand language to explore them. These stories are universal – any kid can imagine themselves doing what Zola does.

I loved that it explored diversity as a part of life – which is what good literature does. It showed the differences and celebrated them – and explained things that kids might not be familiar with in a way that young readers will be able to understand and from there, find out more should they wish to, or when they are ready. Or, they’ll be able to relate other reading and experiences to these characters.

This is a really good addition to the series and it will be fun to see what else Zola gets up to.

Kitty is Not a Cat: Teddy’s Bear by Jess Black

Kitty is not a cat teddys bearTitle: Kitty is Not a Cat: Teddy’s Bear
Author: Jess Black
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Lothian/Hachette Australia
Published: 28th June 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 60
Price: $9.99
Synopsis: What could be better than a cuddly teddy bear? How about a real-life grizzly bear! A warmly funny junior-fiction series about Kitty, a little girl who believes she can be anything she dreams – even a cat.
What could be better that a cuddly teddy bear? How about a real-life grizzly bear! Kitty and the bear spend a fun-filled afternoon together, but it doesn’t take long for Kitty to realise that having a grizzly bear for a playmate may be a little more trouble that she thought.
Kitty is Not a Cat is a warmly funny junior-fiction series about Kitty, a little girl who believes she can be anything she dreams – even a cat. When Kitty arrives on the doorstep of a house full of music-mad felines, their lives are turned upside down as they attempt to teach her how to be human.
Based on the Australian TV series that is enjoyed by kids the whole world over.

~*~

Kitty lives with a family of cats, who are trying to convince her that she is human. Kitty believes she is a cat, however, and will only communicate in meows. As winter sets in, the cats – The Nazz, Petal, Timmy Tom, Last Chance, King Tubby, Mr Clean and Cheeta – decide Kitty needs something to play with over winter. They hatch a plan to find a teddy bear for Kitty, and the results are surprising, amusing and when Cheeta brings a real grizzly bear into the house for Kitty, but will one of the other cats have an even better solution for Kitty?

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In a house filled with music-loving cats, Kitty finds herself quite at home. Before it became a series of books, Kitty started life as an Australian television series for children. The series of books is a companion to the series, that fans of the series and new readers can enjoy, as a summary of the basic premise is given at the front of each book, accompanied by a list of characters at the front to introduce new readers who have not seen the show to them, and to refresh the memories of those who have watched the show.

Teddy’s Bear is one of four adorable stories about Kitty and her cat family, and is a great book for early readers, with themes of family, friendship and kindness at its heart, as well as acceptance and discovering who you are and what you like.

These short stories are ideal for growing the confidence of early readers in a fun and engaging way, and the illustrations in black, white and orange are also engaging, and add to the joy and fun of the story. Early readers will love these books as they build on their vocabulary and engaging with the way a story works.

This fabulous new series will charm readers of all ages.

 

Aussie Kids: Meet Mia at the Jetty by Janeen Brian and Danny Snell

Meet miaTitle: Meet Mia at the Jetty

Author: Janeen Brian and Danny Snell

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Puffin

Published: 2nd July 2020

Format: Paperback

Pages: 64

Price: $12.99

Synopsis: Aussie Kids is an exciting new series for emerging readers 6-8 years.

From a NSW Zoo to a Victorian lighthouse, or an outback sheep farm in WA to a beach in QLD, this junior fiction series celebrates stories about children living in unique places in every state and territory in Australia.

8 characters, 8 stories, 8 authors and illustrators from all 8 states and territories!

Come on an adventure with Aussie Kids and meet Mia from South Australia.

Hi! I’m Mia
Jim is coming to stay with us soon.
I want to show him the jetty, beach and island.
But I don’t want my bossy sister Alice to take over.
So I have a plan . . .

~*~

In the other Aussie Kids book being released this month, Mia lives by a jetty in South Australia. She’s excited to have Jim come to stay and can’t wait to show him around her jetty and the world she lives in – but she doesn’t want her big sister, Alice, taking over! So Mia comes up with a genius plan that she hopes will show Jim how clever she is.

Another story that takes place over one day, exploring the coast and its sights as Mia introduces Jim and the reader to her world. Again, this book shows the diversity of Australia and its people, where they live and the kind of things they enjoy doing.

AWW2020Janeen Brian is a wonderful author, and her story here is as engaging and delightful as her other book from this year, Eloise and the Bucket of Stars. This lovely story about friendship, sibling rivalry and discovering the world around you in a new and fascinating way is a beautiful addition to this series.

Much like the other books in the series, Mia’s adventure takes place over a single day, or part of a day, and each story is its own entity but collaboratively, they showcase an Australia that is in some ways familiar and in other ways not so familiar across the board – depending on what the readers and children know. This series will build their reading confidence, vocabulary, and knowledge of diversity and the country they live in.

A lovely story that all readers will enjoy and that will help children build their vocabulary and reading confidence, accompanied by fun and joyful illustrations by Danny Snell.

 

League of Llamas #3: Undercover Llamas by Aleesah Darlison

LOL 3Title: League of Llamas #3: Undercover Llamas

Author: Aleesah Darlison

Genre: Humour

Publisher: Puffin Books Australia

Published: 2nd July 2020

Format: Paperback

Pages: 144

Price: $9.99

Synopsis: High-action, high-adventure and high-humour – the League of Llamas series is perfect for fans of Diary of a Minecraft Zombie and The Bad Guys.

After failing to apprehend some dangerously peck-happy hens, the League of Llamas are going undercover! But these aren’t any ordinary secret identities – Phillipe, Lloyd and Elloise are joining Bruno Llamars (and his grumpy manager, Wally Chimpopo) as band members on the pop star’s next tour . . . to Chickenlovakia.

As the stakes – and tensions – climb higher and higher, will the LOL agents’ cover be blown before they can track down their feathery foes? Only time and some rather alarming discoveries will tell!

~*~

The League of Llamas – Phillippe, Elloise, and Lloyd, led by Mama Llama – are tasked with an undercover mission to uncover the plot of the chickens from Chickenlovakia led by Hilda. Whilst they are undercover as band members with Bruno Llamars, they are tasked with finding out what they can about a secret organisation linked to Chickenlovakia and to apprehend the chickens that have eluded them once before. But who can they trust? Is Wally Chimpopo on their side or is he trying to help the evil hens? It is up to the secret agent llamas to find out and stop the evil plot Hilda hopes to launch on the world.

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League of Llamas is filled with humour, and nods to the real world, as well as the tropes of spy stories – it takes these tropes and makes them fun and accessible for kids, and older readers who enjoy a good laugh. These books are great for reading out loud, to yourself or for parents to read with kids – the alliteration and nods to things adults would know about and appreciate in the context of what they know are cleverly tied into an engaging and amusing story for younger readers eager for that bridge between early readers and middle grade books. It is set in a world that resembles Europe but in a very unique and different way. It has good guys and bad guys, which highlight the contrast between good and evil. Yet at the same time, if you dig a little deeper, it shows the depths that the characters will go to so they can achieve their goals.

As previously stated there are things in this series for adults and kids – and I’ve also read and reviewed the fourth book – there are only four books in this series, as I discussed with Aleesah in my Isolation Publicity, appearing here on the sixth of July. I loved this book, and think kids and readers of all ages will enjoy it!

 

What Zola did on Monday by Melina Marchetta, illustrated by Deb Hudson

Monday ZolaTitle: What Zola did on Monday

Author: Melina Marchetta, illustrated by Deb Hudson

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Puffin

Published: 2nd June 2020

Format: Paperback

Pages: 96

Price: $12.99

Synopsis: From the author of Looking for Alibrandi comes this gorgeous series to engage and entertain newly independent young readers.

Zola loves living on Boomerang Street with her mum and her Nonna. Every day of the week is an adventure. But Zola has a problem. No matter how much she tries, she can’t keep out of trouble!
Seven stories in the series – one for every day of the week.

~*~

Zola loves to have fun, and at school, she is learning about gardens. At home, she spends time in the garden with her Nonna while her mum is at work. One day Nonna Rosa shows Zola special tomato seeds from Nonno, who is no longer with them – and Zola promises to be careful – can she keep out of trouble and save her Nonna’s special tomatoes?

Melina Marchetta, best known for her young adult books, in particular Looking for Alibrandi, and several others. Here, she has created a series for younger readers, about a little girl named Zola, with one book planned for each day of the week, to be released across the next year or so. This first book introduces readers to Zola and her family, and delightfully sets up Zola’s world on Boomerang Street. It is written in easy to understand and accessible language and looks at the inner world of Zola and children her age.

AWW2020Zola cleverly teaches children about friendship, family and problem solving through the fun and engaging story and Deb Hudson’s lovely illustrations that give an extra oomph and zing of life to Zola’s world and story. The language used is simple yet complex – early readers will be able to engage and learn how to read and grow their vocabulary and confidence with stories. It might seem simple on the surface, but it is layered in many ways, and can be read differently at each level and for each reader. Confident readers will be able to read the lines, and all readers will find something and someone in the book they identify with. As the beginning of a series, What Zola Did on Monday is filled with diversity and ideas about identity and what kids like to do.

This series would be perfect for kids in their first few years of school, and even beyond, for readers who might want something fun to read in between everything else. It is aimed at six to eight-year olds primarily, and I hope this readership enjoys these books in whichever way they read and connect with them. I look forward to seeing what other adventures Zola gets up to on the other days of the week. A charm,ing series that will enchant all who read it