The Selection by Kiera Cass

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theselectioncoverThe Selection by Kiera Cass, paperback, 336 pages, published by HarperCollins Children’s Books in 2012.

In a post-apocalyptic world, the land that was North America is now a Monarchy. The King and Queen rule over a rigid caste system, where ‘ones’ are royalty and ‘eights’ are the homeless and vagrants. Each caste has its own place in society, and moving between classes usually only occurs through marriage. America and her family are ‘fives’, making a paltry living through the arts. She is desperately in love with Aspen, who is a ‘six’. Meanwhile, Crown Prince Maxon comes of age and needs to find a wife, kicking off “The Selection”, where a girl from each province is selected to compete for the Prince’s hand. America is chosen, and moves to the palace with the other selected girls, leaving part of her heart behind. She may find refuge, friends, and even love in the palace, but she may also find friction and danger.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure this would be my sort of book. There had been a lot of hype over the series though, so I decided to see for myself. I was pleasantly surprised, and powered through the whole book over the weekend. And now I want to read the rest of the series.

The Selection is a light and entertaining read. I found it good bedtime reading. The plot is fairly simple, and easy to follow, without too many surprises. It made me think of a TV show I’ve seen advertised, The Bachelor. Finding love through reality television seems unlikely, and I have never felt the desire to watch shows like that, but I actually enjoyed reading Prince Maxon’s version. It probably had a lot to do with the characters, which I quite liked, despite being somewhat predictable.

America has character. She’s a bit fiery, had a desire to be non-conformist and frank; in fact she came across as rather rude sometimes, and doesn’t make friends easily. However, she’s still playing the game, no matter what she claims to feel about it. Aspen was harder to get my head around, he was more complex and darker than America. Handsome, of course, proud, and a little broken by his station in life. It will be interesting to see how his character develops in the next book.

Every time Prince Maxon said “My dear”, an image of a grey-haired, bespectacled man wearing a maroon cardigan with a rumpled dress shirt underneath, came to mind. I’m not sure that was the image the Prince was really going for! He is meant to be young, strong, handsome, but once that image popped into my head, it stayed there. He has been thrust into a position of power and must bear it the best he can, seeming brittle and strong on the outside, while really being rather shy and inexperienced at life. Since he doesn’t get out of the palace much, it’s not such a surprise.

The Selection is suitable for high school students. I will be reading the second book in the series, The Elite, to see how things progress.

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The Heir by Kiera Cass

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heircoverThe Heir by Kiera Cass, hardback novel, 346 pages, published by HarperTeen in 2015.

Twenty years down the track from when America Singer and Prince Maxon fell in love, they have been implementing their plans for the country; disbanding the caste system and quieting the rebels, yet not everything is peachy. The populace is restless, discrimination is rife, and an uprising may be coming. Illea also has a new heir to the throne, Princess Eadlyn. The responsibilities and pressures of running the country will one day become hers, but her parents think she would do better with a companion by her side. The search for her true love would also be a convenient distraction for the public, hence a new selection begins. Thirty-five young men all vying for Princess Eadlyn’s affections in the first male selection. Might Eadlyn find her happily ever after?

Okay, so I got sucked into the world of The Selection with America and Maxon and Aspen, and I enjoyed the time I spent in Illea. So it made sense to me to read the fourth book in the series. Overall I did like reading The Heir, but I did not enjoy it nearly as much as I did the first three books in the series, and this mostly had to do with Eadlyn. She certainly was no America. I really liked America, she was impetuous and occasionally reckless, but she was also endearing, kind and compassionate. Eadlyn, however, comes across as aloof, condescending and even sometimes cruel. She is constantly telling herself that no one is more powerful than her, which is probably meant to be a self-confidence booster, but is just vain and arrogant. She is rude to her maid, Neena; insulting her for being a maid, and never saying ‘please’ or ‘thank you’. She thinks Neena is great at her job, and she needs her, but Eadlyn has never praised Neena in this way. She is always thinking about herself, even attempting to interfere with her brother’s happiness just to keep him by her side. She couldn’t even share one of her hundreds of tiara’s with Kile’s little sister, Josie, even though wearing the tiara was obviously making her happy, and it was just as obvious, to everyone aside from Eadlyn, that Josie idolises her. I found Eadlyn to be selfish and spoilt, and not very likeable. There was some character growth by the end of the book, and I can see that she can change, but it hasn’t been enough yet. I really hope she continues to improve in the next book.

Of the men that arrive for The Selection, most of them were pretty average, though I didn’t approve of Eadlyn being so dismissive and aiming to embarrass and demean them. I quite like Henri and Erik, but it must be weird to try to date someone with a translator involved. I was pleased Eadlyn seemed to deal with this strange situation better than she did most of her other potential suitors. I also like Kile, but it is curious that he grew up in the palace, alongside Eadlyn, practically like her brother. It adds an interesting element to their relationship. Still I like him. He’s a little quirky, and will probably be good for Eadlyn. And if he didn’t enter himself, then who put his name in the barrel?

All of these books have been pretty easy reading, including The Heir. It is light entertainment that doesn’t require much thinking, great for right before bed. It is kind of compulsive though, so it’s also a fast page-turning read. The writing is good and the plot somewhat predictable, yet serviceable. I want to stress that I was entertained; a book doesn’t have to be brilliant to be entertaining, and The Heir is just that, entertaining.

I do find that I have a need to discover the outcome of this historic selection despite my feelings towards Eadlyn, so I will be reading the next book in the series, The Crown. Surely Eadlyn will learn from her mistakes and become a better person.

The romance is fairly tame, just a bit of kissing. There is also a small amount of violence, so The Heir is suitable for high school students and up.

Ruined by Amy Tintera

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ruinedcoverRuined by Amy Tintera, paperback novel, 355 pages, published by Allen & Unwin in 2016.

Em is a Ruined without magic, considered useless by her people, and inadequate to rule Ruina after her parents. However, she has other talents which come to fore when her parents are murdered, her sister kidnapped and her home burnt to the ground. With the help of a few faithful friends, Em seeks her revenge by infiltrating the enemy’s castle to bring about their destruction. She doesn’t count on feeling anything but hatred for the Prince of Lera, but sometimes things just don’t go to plan.

I read a sneak peek of Ruined at Epic Reads, and then went straight out and bought myself a copy. I was completely intrigued and simply had to read the rest of Em’s story. I was not disappointed. It has magic, royals, action, fantasy, deception and romance. Sure, it had some similar elements to books such as Red Queen, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and The Selection, but I never get sick of reading this sort of young adult fiction, especially those with a strong female lead. I also really enjoyed the battle and fight scenes. It was good to find a book that didn’t skimp on epic sword battles and bloodshed.

The world in which Em and Cas live seems to be split into four kingdoms, though I was a little confused as to the physical locations of them in relation to eachother. There was a brief description of where they lay, but I could have done with a little map for reference. I like a visual of new worlds, but overall it didn’t matter that much. It was much more important to know that Lera was attempting to conquer everyone else. It also wasn’t clear exactly why the Lera King was so hellbent on destroying all the Ruined. There didn’t seem to be a precipitating cause, just that of fear of what they might do, which is a ridiculous reason for extermination, but one that is not unprecedented in our own history, minus the magical ability of course. These were my only real complaints about the book, but perhaps more will be revealed in the next book.

The story was fast-paced and I appreciated all the action. It kept me flipping pages quickly right to the end. The romance was nice too, slowing building, both of them being unsure, but love can conquer anything, right? Nothing too racy either, so still good for younger readers. I liked learning about some of the politics too, and about how the kingdoms viewed one another.

I actually really liked both Em and Cas. Em was so determined to get her revenge and find her sister when she started out, but she developed some doubts as she got to know Cas. She softened and matured as the story progressed. Casimir also matured greatly through the story. He just didn’t take enough interest in what was going on between the kingdoms before Em came into his life. He trusted his parents, and what they were doing to protect the kingdom. Most children believe completely in their parents, and it can be difficult to accept that they may not be everything the child thinks they are. He was beginning to question some of his parents’ methods when dealing with the Ruined, but without Em, perhaps he would never have been brave enough to speak up and oppose them. His parents were quite cruel in many ways, and I didn’t like them. I also never liked Jovita, Cas’ cousin, she just seemed so sly all the time.

Ruined is suitable for high school students, and is the first book in a trilogy. I can’t wait for book two!

The One by Kiera Cass

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theonecoverThe One by Kiera Cass, hardback novel, 323 pages, published by HarperTeen in 2014.

There’s only four girls left vying for Maxon’s heart. It seems obvious that he prefers America, but his father is not impressed with this choice. And so The Selection continues. There are more tasks for the girls to complete, and more uncertainty as to where Maxon’s affections truly lie. As the rebel activity increases, so too does security, with the whole of the palace restricted to staying indoors, placing even more pressure on the girls. America isn’t really one to conform, but will her

The One is the third novel in The Selection series. It is a light entertaining read that I knocked over quite quickly. It is dystopian romance crossed with reality TV dating. This series is much heavier on the romance than I often read, but I found it to be engaging. There was more action in this book than the previous ones, which was great. While the plot was easy enough to follow, it was solidly written, and there were some good twists.

As the series has progressed, Maxon and America have developed significantly as characters, and for the better. They are more complex now and I have come to like them a lot. America is loyal and passionate, though a little indecisive when it comes to Maxon and Aspen. Mind you, so much of her indecision was fueled by Maxon continuing to spend time with and even to kiss the other girls. They both spent time hedging their bets, which was a little frustrating! Maxon has grown on me immensely. He seems much more real now than at the beginning of the series.

This was my favourite of The Selection books so far, as it explored the rebels situation more thoroughly. We learnt more about the two factions, the Northern and the Southern rebels, and their differing goals. I had been wondering why these groups were attacking the palace, and what their ultimate aims were, especially the Northern rebels. They were attacking, but not killing, so what were they after? After learning more about Gregory Illea in the second book, I wondered how much of the real story did Maxon know and what might he do with such information. Finally some of these questions were answered.

The One is suitable for high school students. I recommend you read the first two novels in the series (The Selection and The Elite) before this one.  There are more books in the series that I am looking forward to reading soon.

The Elite by Kiera Cass

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theleitecoverThe Elite by Kiera Cass, paperback novel, 323 pages, published HarperCollins Children’s Books in 2013.

The Elite is the second book in The Selection series, following on directly from the first book. Prince Maxon has cut the cohort of girls vying for his affection, and the throne, down to just six. These girls are now known as The Elite. Life in the palace is complicated by increased rebel activity, and the other girls are still fighting hard for Maxon. America seems to have Maxon’s heart, but he is still spending plenty of time with the other girls, which makes America jealous. Her feelings for Maxon are escalating, but with Aspen still nearby, who will she choose?

After reading The Selection and enjoying it so much, I came back to read the next book in the series, and I liked it just as much as the first. The Elite was an easy, quick  and entertaining read. This book delved more deeply into the history and politics of their dystopian world, and there was more about the rebel forces. I found this quite interesting. The development of the competition itself was also interesting, following the girls’ rivalries, friendships and time with Maxon.

The Selection series is fairytalesque, so of course, the Prince should fall in love with the heroine. Yet, it is not your simple prince meets girl, prince marries girl story. America actually has to fight for him, and Maxon has to fight for her too, as she doesn’t exactly fit the usual princess mould. And they get to do it with the whole nation watching. There was conflict within the plot and some twists, and romance, combining to make for a captivating read.

I felt that Maxon came out of his shell in this story. He wasn’t so meek, and he even argued with America, not letting her have her own way all the time. I liked this development. He also started learning more about his country’s history and the way that the lower castes live. America is certainly opening his eyes to many things. For her part, America is impulsive, generous and fiery. I like her. She is changing as she gathers more knowledge about how the country is run, and how she could change it from the inside. At the same time, Aspen is changing as he serves as a palace guard. They are diverging, yet there are still sparks between them. They have both grown up a lot since we first met them. All the characters gained more depth through this story.

The Elite is suitable for high school students. I’m looking forward to the third book in the series, The One.

 

Book Review Index

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Novels

Abrams, Scott and Blockton, Adam. Time Sailors of Pizzolungo

Abrey, Tracy. Blue Sun

Altebrando, Tara. The Leaving

Aveyard, Victoria. Red Queen

Ballagh, Jonathan. The Quantum Door

Bateson, Catherine. Rain May and Captain Daniel

Benedis-Grab, Daphne. The Angel Tree

Bergin, Virginia. The Rain

Black, Holly. Doll Bones

Black, Holly. The Cruel Prince

Boorman, Kate A. Winterkill

Bowling, Nicholas. Witchborn

Brannon, Lira. Four Days to Fusion

Brooks, P. S. Deathcat Sally

Brouder, Michele. Claire Daly: Reluctant Soul Saver

Cabot, Meg. The Princess Diaries series

Cass, Kiera. The Selection

Cass, Kiera. The Elite

Cass, Kiera. The One

Cass, Kiera. The Heir

Cassidy, Anne. No Virgin

Child, Lauren. Clarice Bean Spells Trouble

Colfer, Eoin. Artemis Fowl

Cowell, Cressida. How to Train Your Dragon

Dashner, James. The Maze Runner

D’Ath, Justin. Phoebe Nash: Girl Warrior

Ellefson, Benjamin. The Land Without Color

Tarrant, Natasha. Lydia: The Wild Girl of Pride and Prejudice

Ferris, Fleur. Black

Fitzpatrick, Becca. Black Ice

French, Simon. Change the Locks

Gardner, Sally. Wings & Co: Operation Bunny

Garrow, Colin. The Architect’s Apprentice

Gleitzman, Morris. Bumface

Gleitzman, Morris. Misery Guts

Goodman, Grant. Agent Darcy and Ninja Steve in Tiger Trouble

Gough, Erin. The Flywheel

Green, John. The Fault in Our Stars

Grey, Emma. Unrequited: Girl Meets Boy Band

Hanson, James. After Falling Apart

Harvey, Jacqueline. Alice-Miranda at School

Harvey, Jacqueline. Clementine Rose and the Surprise Visitor

Harvey, Jacqueline. Clementine Rose and the Pet Day Disaster

Harvey, Jacqueline. Clementine Rose and the Perfect Present

Heath, Jack. Scream: The Human Flytrap

Heath, Jack. Scream: The Spider Army

Heltzel, Anne. Charlie, Presumed Dead

Hinkens, Norma. Immurement

Hunt, Julie. Song for a Scarlet Runner

Hunt, H. Rob. Kyle Evans and the Key to the Universe

Ifield, Melanie. The Candlestick Dragon

Jackson, Sarah. Pete and the Persian Bottle

Jinks, Catherine. A Very Unusual Pursuit

Jonsberg, Barry. My Life as an Alphabet

Kaufman. Amie and Kristoff, Jay. Illuminae

Kersey, Christine. Gone

Kelleher, Victor. The Hunting of Shadroth

Kennedy, Cathy. Meeting of the Mustangs

Kirby, Matthew J. Icefall

Lasky, Kathryn. My Royal Story: Marie Antionette

Lockhart, E. We Were Liars

Lowry, Lois. The Giver

Lynn, Kassandra. Demon Princess

Maas, Sarah J. A Court of Thorns and Roses

Marwood, Lorraine. Star Jumps (verse)

Mass, Wendy. 11 Birthdays

Mass, Wendy. Twice Upon a Time: Rapunzel, The One With All the Hair

Mass, Wendy. Twice Upon a Time: Sleeping Beauty, The One Who Took the Really Long Nap

Mayor, Stephanie. Nobody’s Story: The Golden Locket

Mayor, Stephanie. Nobody’s Story: The First Kingdom

Meehan, Rachel. Eternal Inheritance

Meehan, Rachel. Power’s Out

Meehan, Rachel. Water’s Edge

Mews, Dennis. Lost in the Woods

Meyer, Stephenie. Twilight Saga (Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn)

Mlynowski, Sarah, and Myracle, Lauren and Jenkins, Emily. Upside-Down Magic

Moos, Brian. Googa Nark: A Great Adventure

Morrison, Mark. TwoSpells

Mounfield, Jenny. The Ice-Cream Man

Mulliner, Brittney. Begin Again

Mulliner, Brittney. Live Again

Murphy, Jill. The Worst Witch

Murray, Michelle. The Dream Walker, Land of Mystica Series Volume 1

Niven, Jennifer. All the Bright Places

Niven, Jennifer. Holding Up the Universe

Norrington, Leonie. The Barrumbi Kids

Norton, Catherine. Crossing

O’Byrne, Lorraine. The Hippity Dippity Witch

Owen-Blue, Toni. Iris

Peckham, Caroline. Creeping Shadow (The Rise of Isaac #1)

Peckham, Caroline. Bleeding Snow (The Rise of Isaac #2)

Peckham, Caroline. Falling Fire (Part 1) *novella

Peckham, Caroline. Falling Fire (Part 2) *novella

Peter, Christopher. Danny Chaucer’s Flying Saucer

Phillips, Helen. Upside Down in the Jungle

Priestley, Chris. The Dead of Winter

Pulford, Elizabeth. Tussock

Reid Banks, Lynne. Harry the Poisonous Centipede

Riddle, Travis M. Wondrous

Rider, Caron. Apophis

Roche, Suzanne. Making It Home

Rodda, Emily. Rowan of Rin

Skye, J. S. The Granted Wish

Skye, J. S. The Land of the Sourpie

Smith, Mark. The Road to Winter

Spratt, R. A. Friday Barnes Girl Detective

Stefani, Brady G. The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman

Stephens, Elise. Guardian of the Gold Breathers

Stevens, Robin. Murder Most Unladylike

Swinnerton, Alastair. The Multiverse of Max Tovey

Taylor, Laini. Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Thomas, M. T. I’ll Rescue You

Throsby, Holly. Goodwood

Tintera, Amy. Ruined

Unsworth, Tania. The One Safe Place

Valenti, Susanne. Chained

Walker Bain, Brydie. The Secret of Sinbad’s Cave

Walker Bain, Brydie. The Ship of Sight and the Hand of Shadow

Wallach, Tommy. We All Looked Up

Walliams, David. Ratburger

Weetman, Nova. The Haunting of Lily Frost

Welford, Ross. Time Travelling with a Hamster

West, Shay. Dangerous Reflections

Wildenstein, Olivia. The Masterpiecers

Wyatt, C. C. Ferret

Wyatt, Kandi J. Dragon’s Future

Wyatt, Kandi J. Dragon’s Heir

Wyatt, Kandi J. Journey From Skioria

Zorn, Claire. The Protected

Zorn, Claire. The Sky So Heavy

 

Chapter Books

Barrows, Annie and Blackall, Sophie. Ivy + Bean

Baldwin, Deborah. Bumbling Bea

Bayes, Majorie. The Princess and the Dragon: A Fractured Fairy Tale

Branford, Anna and Davis, Sarah. Violet Mackerel’s Possible Friend

Burden, Roy. Megan’s Brood

Dadey, Debbie and Thornton Jones, Marcia. The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids: Santa Claus Doesn’t Mop Floors

Donaldson, Julia. The Snake Who Came to Stay

Evans, P. T. Minecat: A Whole Lot of Ocelots

Fogwell, Jasmine. An Unlikely Friendship

Glaser, Ronnie. The Adventures of Adam and the Incredibly Mysterious Zorkins

Griffiths, Andy and Denton, Terry. The 39-Storey Treehouse

Harding, David. Florence Takes the Lead (RSPCA Animal Tales)

Harmer, Wendy. Ava Anne Appleton Accidental Adventurer

Kelleher, Victor and King, Stephen Michael. Goblin in the Snow

Knife & Packer. Freak Street: Meet the Zombiesons

Lefebre, Leen. Frede and Santa

Mullins, B. C. Tony Park and Summer with Grandpa

Murrell, Belinda and Geddes, Serena. Lulu Bell and the Birthday Unicorn

Nolan, Paul. Mrs Miller – Christmas Killer

Pichon, L. Tom Gates: Excellent Excuses (and other good stuff)

Pilkey, Dav. The Adventures of Captain Underpants

Poshoglian, Yvette. Ella and Olivia series

Ryan, Margaret and Murfin, Teresa. Airy Fairy: Magic Mess!

Stilton, Geronimo. Creepella von Cacklefur: Fright Night

Stilton, Geronimo. Geronimo Stilton Mini Mysteries Series

York, A. J. A Fairy Extraordinary Christmas Story

York, A. J. Delilah Dusticle

York, A. J. Delilah Dusticle’s Transylvanian Adventure

York, A. J. Eliza Bluebell

 

 Short Stories

Chandler, Ron. D is for Dudley and Other Nature Tales.

Gleeson, Libby and Blackwood, Freya. The Cleo Stories: The Necklace and The Present

Griffiths, Andy and Denton, Terry. Just Tricking

Heinecke, Mathew. Willakaville: Amazing Adventures of Astronomical Awesomeness

Heinecke, Mathew. Willakaville: Baffling Ballads of Boisterous Braveness

Jennings, Paul. Quirky Tails

O’Hara, Sofia. Popular

O’Hara, Sofia. The Frog That Could Not Jump

Pratchett, Terry. Dragons at Crumbling Castle

Rose, S. B. Weeping Willows

Sorensen, Emily Martha. Valentine’s Oops

Valdez, Deborah. Don’t Miss the Boat!: Adventures at Arrowhead Island.

 

 

Picture Books

Albert, Dunned. Where is Heaven Anyway?

Allen, Pamela. The Bear’s Lunch

Andreae, Giles and Cabban, Vanessa. There’s a House Inside my Mummy

Auell, Melissa. Brady Plays the Fiddle

Awry, Christopher. Thomas and the Missing Christmas Tree

Baker-Hall, Mr. Dinner at the Zoo

Baker-Hall, Mr. The Flood at the Zoo

Barlics, Brian. The Perfect Shade of Green

Beal, Heather, L. Elephant Wind

Beal, Heather, L. Tummy Rumble Quake

Bedford, David and Moor, Becka. The Three Ninja Pigs

Benjamin, A H and Bendall-Brunello, John. At the End of the Rainbow

Bently, Peter and Melmon, Deborah. Underpants, Thunderpants

Bently, Peter and Melmon, Deborah. Underpants Wonderpants

Blabey, Aaron. The Dreadful Fluff

Blabey, Aaron. Pig the Elf

Blabey, Aaron. Pig the Fibber

Blabey, Aaron. Pig the Pug

Blabey, Aaron. Thelma the Unicorn

Bland, Nick. A Monster Wrote Me a Letter

Bland, Nick. King Pig

Bland, Nick. When Henry Caught Imaginitis

Bland, Nick and Blackwood, Freya. The Runaway Hug

Brian, Janeen and James, Ann. I’m a Dirty Dinosaur

Brian, Janeen and King, Stephen Michael. Where Does Thursday Go?

Buchanan, Colin and Singleton, Glen. Santa Koala

Buckley, Gavin. The Smellyphant

Civardi, Anne. Usborne First Experiences: Going to School

Cohen, Sigi and Foley, James. My Dead Bunny

Crumble, P. and McDonald, Danielle. Sheep on a Beach

Crumble, P. and Shea, Louis. There Was an Old Bloke Who Swallowed a Chook

Crumble, P. and Shea, Louis. There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Mozzie

Crumble, P. and Shea, Louis. There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Star!

Crumble, P. and Shea, Louis. Tortoise and the Hair

Davick, Linda. I Love You, Nose! I Love You, Toes!

Daywalt, Drew and Jeffers, Oliver. The Day the Crayons Quit

Donaldson, Julia and Roberts, David. Jack and the Flumflum Tree

Donaldson, Julia and Scheffler, Axel. The Gruffalo

Donaldson, Julia and Scheffler, Axel. Room on the Broom

Donaldson, Julia and Scheffler, Axel. Zog

Doyle, Malachy and Vivas, Julie. Sleepy Pendoodle

Dubosarsky, Ursula. The Terrible Plop

Edgley, Richard and Kalpart. Little Jakey’s House

Elliott, Rebecca. Dalmatian in a Digger

England, Kathryn and Redlich, Ben. T-rex’s Terrible Tooth

Fox, Diane and Fox, Christyan. Dinosaur Poo!

Fox, Mem and Horacek, Judy. Where is the Green Sheep?

Fox, Mem and Ljungkvist, Laura. Yoo-hoo, Ladybird!

Fox, Mem and Quay, Emma. Baby Bedtime

Faille, Chris and Snell, Danny. Jeremy

French, Jackie and Whatley, Bruce. Pete the Sheep

French, Jackie and Whatley, Bruce. The Christmas Wombat

Geras, Adèle and Walters, Catherine. Sleep Tight, Ginger Kitten

Gibbes, Lesley and King, Stephen Michael. Scary Night

Gleeson, Libby and Blackwood, Freya. Banjo and Ruby Red

Graham, Bob. Silver Buttons

Gray, Les, and Field, Jim. Frog on a Log?

Gurney, Chris and Bennett, John. Esau the Paw

Hale, Honeysuckle. Tongue Twisters for Girls

Harrison, Kathryn. Weeds in Nana’s Garden

Hawksley, Gerald. If You Have a Hat

Hawksley, Gerald. Spot the Duck

Hill, Eric. Spot Goes to School

Hughes, Russell and Jones, KayeC. The Day the Aunts Disappeared

Hughes, Russ and Jones, KayeC. The Wandering Troll

Hussey, Lorna. Little Lost Unicorn

Ingellis, Jean. Waneta the Walrus and her Blue Tu-tu

Jeffers, Oliver. How to Catch a Star

Jeffers, S. A. and Straus, Catherine. Bigfoot Trails: Pacific Northwest

Jenne, Denise L, and Iannone, Julie. Annalise’s Up and Down Day

Jones, KayeC. Kitty Conquers the Big Bully

Jones, Marianne. Great-Grandma’s Gifts

Kane, Kim and Acton, Sara. Esther’s Rainbow

KilBride, Sarah and Tilley, Sophie. Princess Evie’s Ponies: Indigo the Magic Rainbow Pony

Kitchin, Ben and Redlich, Ben. Don’t Wake the Troll

Knapman, Timothy and Warburton, Sarah. My Adventure Island

Larsen, Andrew and Lowery, Mike. A Squiggly Story

Lassa, Julia and Terzi, Merve. On Your Marks, Get Set, Go!

Lee, Mary. Why? Because I Love You

Lester, Alison. Kissed by the Moon

Lester, Alison. My Dog Bigsy

Lindman, Lisa E. The Fox Forest Band

L’Heureux, Christine and Brigand, Pierre. Caillou, No More Diapers

Llewelyn, Christopher and Tulloch, Scott. Tyranno-sort-of Rex

MacLeod, Doug and Smith, Craig. The Windy Farm

McClane, Lola and dela Peña, Angel. The Bird Who Was Afraid of Heights

McClelland, Kate. Blackbird, Blackbird, What Do You Do?

McKee, David. Elmer and the Rainbow

McKenzie, Heath. I Wanna be a Pretty Princess

McKenzie, Heath. What does Santa do When it’s not Christmas?

McKenzie, Heath. What do Werewolves do when it’s not Halloween?

Meehan, Rachel. Cyclops

Morrison, Yvonne and Niland, Kilmeny. An Aussie Night Before Christmas

Murphy, Mary and Lee, Josh. The Bus to the Zoo

Mushin, Jerry. Dr Hedgehog and the Postbox Rescue

Nicoll, Helen and Pienkowski, Jan. Mog at the Zoo

Ormerod, Jan and Joyner, Andrew. The Swap

Oron, Hagit and Oron, Or. Elphie and Dad go on an Epic Adventure

Parker, Danny and Ottley, Matt. Parachute

Paul, Ruth. Two Little Pirates

Peter, April. Ann Can’t Sleep

Plyler Fisk, Nicole. The Pirate Train

Poh, Jennie. Herbie’s Big Adventure

Prior, Ted. Grug and the Rainbow

Quintana, Diane N. and Beattie, Jonda, S. Suzie’s Messy Room

Rossiter, Janina. Tovi the Penguin Goes to the Seaside

Sendak, Maurice. Where the Wild Things Are

Sorensen, Emily Martha. Tabby, Tabby, Burning Bright

Spires, Ashley. The Most Magnificent Thing

Steam, Karl. How Santa Changed

Stickland, Paul. Ten Terrible Dinosaurs

Strambini, Karla. The Extraordinary Mr Qwerty

Tan, Shaun. Rules of Summer

Teague, Mark. Funny Farm

Trumbauer, Lisa and Ho, Jannie. The Great Reindeer Rebellion

Vaughan, Marcia K and Lofts, Pamela. Wombat Stew

Ward, Lynn and Carruthers, Adam. The Big Beet

Wickstrom, Lois and Mion, Francie. Bees in Loretta’s Bonnet

Wickstrom, Lois and Mion, Francie. Loretta’s Pet Caterpillar

Wild, Margaret and Blackwood, Freya. The Treasure Box

Wild, Margaret and King, Stephen Michael. The Pocket Dogs

Wild, Margaret and Vivas, Julie. The Very Best of Friends

Wilson, Tony and Wood, Laura. The Cow Tripped Over the Moon

Whitlark, Kevin. The Twelve Cats of Christmas

Whybrow, Ian and Reynolds, Adrian. Harry and the Dinosaurs go to School

Zoehfeld, Kathleen W. Pooh’s First Day at School

 

 

Boardbooks

Bondor, Rebecca. Ears, Eyes, Nose

Brenner, Andrew. Humf is a Furry Thing

Campbell, Rod. The First Christmas

Church, Caroline Jayne. Ten Tiny Toes

Emmett, Jonathan and Cabban, Vanessa. Bringing Down the Moon

French, Jackie and Whatley, Bruce. Diary of a Wombat

Griffiths, Andy and Denton, Terry. Big Fat Cows

Hawkins, Emily. Amazing Baby: Rainbow Fun

Land, Fiona. Ladybird Baby Touch Rainbow

MacDonald, Suse. Dino Shapes

Peppa’s Christmas Wish

Smith, Craig and Cowley, Katz. The Wonky Donkey

 

 

First Readers

Arnold, Tedd. Fly Guy and the Frankenfly

Arnold, Tedd. Fly Guy Presents Sharks

Arnold, Tedd. There’s a Fly Guy in my Soup

Flying Colours. The Rainbow

Kendall, Jeneane. Lost and Found at the Library

 

 

Non-fiction

Allen, Sarah. Fluid Mechanics: A Fairy Tale

Allen, Sarah. Optics: A Fairy Tale

Bloomsbury Discovery. My Body

Cole, Babette. Mummy Laid an Egg!

Colson, Rob. Bone Collection: Animals

Deary, Terry and Brown, Martin. Horrible Histories: Angry Aztecs

Deary, Terry and Brown, Martin. Horrible Histories: The Big Fat Christmas Book

Deary, Terry and Brown, Martin. Horrible Histories: Terrible Trenches

Deary, Terry and Brown, Martin and Reeve, Philip. Horrible Histories: Horribly Hilarious Joke Book

Deary, Terry and Reeve, Philip. Horrible Histories: Wicked Words

Green, Dan. Basher Basics: Maths

Breathed, Helen. Lonely Planet Kids: Paris City Trails

Hinkler. Pocket Pal: Jokes to Tell

Hubbard, Judith. What are Diamonds and How do they Form?

Jeffers, S.A and Straus, Catherine. Bigfoot Trails: Pacific Northwest

Johnson, Jinny. Explorers: Insects and Minibeasts

Levy, Joel. Freaky Phobias

Llewellyn, Claire. Explorers: Big Cats

Martialay, Judy. ¡Hola! Let’s Learn Spanish

McCartney, Tania. Australia Illustrated

Montgomery, Heather L. Wild Discoveries Wacky New Animals

Moore, Dr Gareth. Optical Illusions

Moore, Reed Abbitt. Piggy Sense!: Save it for a Rainy Day

Oelschlager, Vanita. Birds of a Feather

Professor, Baby. Orange Animals on the Planet

Richards, Kel and Singleton, Glen. Big Book of Aussie Dinosaurs

Saltz, Dr. Gail, and Cravath, Lynne Avril. Amazing You!

Silverberg, Cory and Smyth, Fiona. What Makes a Baby

Stinson, Kathy and Collins, Heather. The Bare Naked Book

Wachob, George D. Punch Lines: “Humerus Art”

 

 

Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository

Guest Post: How Technology Has Changed the Way Children Discover the Joy of Reading

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kidsreadingImage: Shutterstock

 

How Technology Has Changed the Way Children Discover the Joy of Reading

It doesn’t take a team of scientists to tell us that children holding tablets and iPhones before they can speak has substantially changed the way they interact with the world. The research has been done, but it’s fairly obvious that the switch from wooden blocks to a full on digital device is a force to be reckoned with.

So what has changed exactly?

Access to instant information has trained us to be satisfied when we are constantly engaged, but more importantly, entertained in every second. For new readers, this can be distracting for the learning process. It takes careful motivation and time for the development of comprehension and practical application to cross over the digital barrier and enrich new readers to pick up reading with an appetite on their own.

 

Attention Spans

The digital age has shortened the human attention span to eight seconds, and it’s had a big effect on kids too, as studies show that, on average, children from ages 6 to 12 spend an average of six hours a day in front of screens. After a while that can mean big changes to learning styles, but in this day and age, you don’t have to fight the statistics but can embrace them.

Matching your child’s interest in digital devices with reading is an excellent way to reach them on a level they will be excited about, and excitement and independence are the ways to get lifetime readers (both things your kids can achieve through reader technologies). Letting them navigate ways to read titles that interest them, allowing them access to books when it interests them, and also maintaining that they are reading at their level will build voracious readers that can’t get enough of the written word.

A couple of good things to remember about tablets however is that tuning out is as important as tuning in, so moderation and supplementation with exercise, plenty of time for play outside away from the tablet and a healthy diet with plenty of fluids are the best ways to raise healthy kids that don’t become unnaturally addicted to screen time.

 

Apps

The good news about digital reading comes down to apps. Between interactive games and e-readers, getting your kid to read on a tablet combines two things that really are better together: the latest technology and one of the oldest taught skills. Together, they improve minds, expand horizons and make for brighter futures. Here are a few apps that are likely to help out any new reader:

  • MeeGenius: Working on iOS, Android and Google Play, MeeGenius allows readers to highlight words that might need a little more time, and then go back to review them with audio, as well as providing a personalization element that will substitute the main character’s name with your child’s name. It’s a great tool for the younger set still learning how to read, and it comes free with book selection.
  • Tikatok StorySpark: As Barnes & Noble’s kid-friendly app, Tikatok StorySpark combines a lot of great elements for an app that will fully engage any new reader who also wants to take a stab at playing author. Kid’s can write and publish their own stories, using their own drawings or uploading digital backgrounds, and then they can upload their finished product to com for publication.
  • Tales2Go: This app is a winner due to its inclusion of thousands of titles that you can take wherever your tablet can go (hint the name!) and is well-beloved by parents who don’t want to pack a bunch of bedtime books for every adventure. Bookmark favorites, scroll through genres and save yourself a little library on Tales2Go—it’s ideal for the reader who can’t get enough of the favorites but also likes the option to browse.
  • A Story Before Bed: A Story Before Bed app is a great one for readers who dig the nighttime storytelling experience. It allows readers to access 300 titles and then uses a video recording to save the goodnight reading session. It’s perfect for going back to relive some of the best stories you have shared together whenever.

 

Mobile Opportunities

Busy families can benefit from the mobile opportunities that a tablet reader provides, and if you don’t want to have your kid slinging around your new iPad Air, tablet devices for kids exist for that very reason.

Try a model such as the V.Reader, which is perfect for toddlers just getting their hands on a book or two. It comes with software cartridges that let you monitor what they’re reading and provides them with plenty of interactive games. For older readers, the Amazon’s bundled e-reader includes achievement benchmarks that monitor your child’s progress and comes with access to over 250,000 titles and the ability to access e-books from their libraries. With the Amazon reader you can also download PDF books whenever you run out of options, so try international titles from around the world. Sounds like a great start, right?

It may seem as if the world is coming to an end since the tablet’s arrival, but really it’s just an opportunity for us all to evolve—something we’ve historically been very successful at. Why not do it with reading?

How has technology impacted your child’s reading? Do you have any other apps you would suggest? Share with us in the comments below!

 

About the Author: Caroline is a passionate reader and technology guru who writes for CultureCoverage.com and SecureThoughts.com. She is constantly in search of the best new book, the latest in technology and the ultimate guide on how to gracefully get out of weekend plans so she can remain at home in bed with a good read.

Web: www.culturecoverage.com
Twitter: @CultureCovC

Aussie Christmas Books for Children

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With Christmas only six weeks away, it was time to pull out some of our Christmas books. We have a pretty good selection of Christmas themed books and I wanted to share some of the Australian ones here.

IMG_3000Our absolute favourite Christmas book, What Does Santa do When it’s not Christmas? is by Australian author and illustrator Heath McKenzie. It is a perfect picture book for sharing aloud and is sure to make you laugh!

IMG_5824Other humourous rhyming books for an Aussie Christmas include There Was an Old Bloke who Swallowed a Present and There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Star, both by P. Crumble and Louis Shea. With hilarious illustrations and a familiar cadence, these are great for young children.

IMG_5827For some Christmas carols with an Aussie twist Colin Buchanan has it covered with Santa Koala (to the tune of Waltzing Matilda), Aussie Jingle Bells and The Twelve Days of Aussie Christmas. The latter also has a list of things to spot in the pictures throughout the book. Fair Dinkum Aussie Christmas is a collection of songs by Bucko & Champs which can be sung to the tunes of some traditional carols. Possibly the most popular Australian Christmas song is Six White Boomers by Rolf Harris and Bruce Whatley; it is certainly our favourite! We also like The Twelve Cats of Christmas by Kevin Whitlark. If you’re more of a dog lover, you may prefer The Twelve Dogs of Christmas!

IMG_5829IMG_5833It wouldn’t be Christmas without reading An Aussie Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve! I love the idea of Santa arriving in an old ute.

Fans of Diary of a Wombat won’t be able to pass Christmas Wombat by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley. That wombat sure does like carrots!

IMG_5830We have a picture book called Santa is Coming to Sydney. Santa takes the whole night to make his special deliveries to Sydney children before flying home… it’s probably nice for kids in Sydney to read about Santa coming to their city, but my kids weren’t really impressed, as it made it seem like Santa would only be visiting Sydney. I do like that Santa uses Santa-Nav to get around though.

IMG_5836If you’re looking for something to keep the kids entertained, you might like to try Where’s Santa? In Australia by Louis Shea. There are literally hundreds of things to spot in this Where’s Wally?-esque book. The humourous illustrations will keep the kids busy for hours!

We also enjoyed The Australian Twelve Days of Christmas by Michael Salmon (my favourite version), Tea and Sugar Christmas by Jane Jolly and Robert Ingpen, and Christmas in Australia by John Williamson and Mitch Vane. We borrowed these ones from the library.

What Aussie Christmas books do you like to read with your kids?

 

 

Button Photo Frame

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The photo frame.

The photo frame.

Last week I picked up a cheap wooden photo frame from the local second hand shop. It was very plain, but in good condition. A jazzed it up for me using a selection of buttons from our button jar.

A spread all the buttons out on the table so that she could select the ones she wanted to use. In order to stick to the frame, the buttons needed to have a flat back. Then she added some glue and started sticking buttons all around the frame.

Gluing on buttons.

Gluing on buttons.

Once it was dry we put a photo of the kids with their great grandmother into the frame, and it is sitting on our dining table.

Melty Beads Bag Tags

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IMG_8173When L was a preschooler her teacher noticed that while she was advanced in many areas, her fine motor skills could use some improvement. The school gave me some ideas for things to practice with her to improve her fine motor skills to help improve her writing. One of their suggestions was melty beads, which I found under the brand name Hama Beads in Lincraft. These are little plastic ring-like beads that are placed on a peg board in the desired design and then the top is ironed to melt the beads together (with baking paper between the beads and the iron face to prevent the beads melting onto the iron!). Then once the beads cool down, the design can be removed from the peg board and displayed or used in whatever way one wishes. These melty beads were a huge hit with L. We have done many designs over the past couple of years, and it never seems to lose its appeal. Now A is also very interested in making designs with the melty beads.

L adding beads to her star peg board.

L adding beads to her star peg board.

Yesterday we used our melty beads to make some bag tags. A chose to make her bag tag in a heart shape, while L picked to use the star peg board. There are many different shaped peg boards available, and we only have a small selection. There are also lots of different coloured beads, which can be purchased as individual colours, or in various mixed packs. I have always bought  sets of mixed beads for variety, and L and A mostly like to place the coloured beads randomly onto their chosen shape.

A placing beads on her peg board.

A placing beads on her peg board.

As predicted, A made her two hearts in a completely random way, though L made some patterns on her stars. I wielded the iron as it is too dangerous for the kids to touch.

A's hearts.

A’s hearts.

L's stars.

L’s stars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I used a hot glue gun to attach a piece of ribbon to the back of one of the shapes to form a loop from which the tag could be hung. Continuing with the glue gun, I stuck the second shape back-to-back with the first shape, so that the ribbon was sandwiched between them. A’s two hearts went together nicely, and L asked to have her stars placed so that the points of one were between the points of the other. She thought this looked cool. The glue doesn’t take long to dry, so shortly after finishing the kids could attach their new tags to their bags.

We didn’t write their names on these tags, but they do help the kids to identify their own bag at school.

New bag tag hanging on A's backpack.

New bag tag hanging on A’s backpack.

L's new bag tag hanging from the handle of her backpack.

L’s new bag tag hanging from the handle of her backpack.