Hip Hip Hooray! Puffin's 80th Birthday Book Celebration

Guess what? September 2020 marks Puffin’s milestone 80th anniversary – has it really been that long! Puffin is now home to some of the world’s most iconic children’s book characters. I mean who doesn’t have a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar or Where Is The Green Sheep? tucked away on their book shelf that you simply can’t bear to part with?

Staples like Where’s Spot? (who turned 40 this year!) and Roald Dahl’s, Matilda (to name but one) have helped nurture and entertain our children’s imaginations for decades and this September Puffin Australia are extending their party fever to YOU! Whenever you next visit your local bookshop, simply purchase two Puffin children’s book titles of your choice and you’ll score your very own Puffin water bottle for FREE!

There are literally thousands of well-loved characters, exciting new tales and firm old favourites to choose from. Here is a smattering of selected titles from Puffin to ‘quench’ your thirst until you get that water bottle for yourself! For the full phenomenal Puffin’s 80th Pick list visit their website and ENJOY!

Puffin Little Series: Little Environmentalist, Scientist, Cook

This stylish little non-fiction set of books is designed for small hands and big curiosities. The first in the series, Little Environmentalist teaches little humans fabulous fun facts about making and implementing change; change that could ultimately help save our planet! The Composting title is more than a reference book. It’s a handy guide to conservation, recycling, waste cycles and reducing presented by Puffin himself. Readers are escorted through the process of decomposing and composting via an easy to read narrative segmented into digestible chapters and supported by factual diagrams and lists.

There’s a quiz to reinforce knowledge at the end of each book along with a Glossary of the main terms used. What I love most about these books, apart from their depth and scientific detail, is their accessibility. Each title is illustrated in monotone black and white with a two-tone colour scheme that complements the topic: Composting is presented in green and yellow, The Solar System in blue and yellow, Snacks in appetite stimulating orange and yellow. Clever and eye-catching, this makes focusing on the facts memorable and fun.

Other titles include: Little Cook: Snacks and Little Scientist: The Solar System. Snacks is a must have first cook’s companion. Kitchen rules, equipment descriptions and safety considerations feature alongside information about nutrition and the food pyramid before easing into a delicious daily menu of easy-to make recipes of mouth-watering snacks. Perfect for mini master chefs to try.

The Solar System is a dazzling assembly of sensational space facts that convoys potential astronauts through our solar system one planet and asteroid belt at a time. I’m still learning from it!

These books are touted suitable for ages 6 and up but I wager young minds up to 12-years-old and beyond will gain much from this series, as well. There is simply so much interesting, fascinating and informative material in each book to absorb but it never feels overwhelming or dry. And the best part? Come late September, the Puffin Little series welcomes three new titles to add to your bookshelves, perfect for little historians, explorers and scientists (Rockets is the new title here, guaranteed to blow primary schooler minds!)

High value. High entertainment. Highly recommended.

Title: Puffin Little series: Various titles
Author: Puffin Books, Penguin Random House Australia
Illustrator: Puffin Books
Publisher: Puffin Books, $12.99 
Publication Date: July – September 2020
Format: Paperback
ISBN: Various
For ages: 6+
Type: Illustrated Non-Fiction

No One Likes A Fart

After learning about greenhouse gases, No One Likes A Fart exposes little readers to a gas of a more comic kind; the humble bottom burp.

Fart slipped out one day, unnoticed and unseen, but super keen to absorb everything about his new home. Trouble is, wherever he wafts, he encounters people reacting badly to some very reprehensible odours. Fart floats on, anxious to get as far away as possible from those dreadful smells, blissfully unaware that it might be him causing those noxious stinks. As Fart wafts around the neighbourhood, he is overjoyed by his surroundings and grateful to be alive. Just one thing would make him happier, a friend. All hope of finding a new best friend is shattered though, just like Fart’s heart, when he realises with a shock that the disgusting, horrible, terrible smell is him. Alone and crestfallen, Fart finally chances upon the friend he’s always wanted, someone who appreciates him for exactly what he is.

I loved this! Blake’s narrative about a little misunderstood, friendless flatulence ebbs and flows with humour and, believe or not, the sweetest language, butt trumpets and air biscuits notwithstanding. I never knew it was possible to feel so much affection for a hitherto frowned upon body emission but Nickel’s swanky retro illustrations and Blake’s comic yet sensitive portrayal of accepting who you are permeate with powerful conviction. This fun story stretches the boundaries and persuades us to look beyond our noses. Pre-schooler and early primary-aged readers will love this. Older readers can take heart in knowing, there is somebody for everybody out there.

One of the best ‘fart’ focused picture books available.

Title: No One Likes A Fart
Author: Zoe Blake
Illustrator: Adam Nickel
Publisher: Viking imprint, $19.99 
Publication Date: November 2017
Format: Hardcover
For ages: 3 – 8
Type: Picture Book

This review first featured in Boomerang Books Blog January 2018

Friday Barnes 1: Girl Detective

R A Spratt and I share a dubious childhood secret. We were both mad for Trixie Belden. I’m busting another secret; there’s a new super-youth-sleuth in town and she goes by the name of Friday Barnes. And now, I’m going a bit mad for her.

Spratt’s latest series of detective stories exploded onto the shelves of this generation’s mystery-hungry youth with, Friday Barnes Girl Detective in May 2019. Friday continues to dazzle, in her trademark non-conspicuous way in the second of the series, Under Suspicion. There are now nine enigmatic titles in the series.

Friday Barnes is a complex high thinking, self-assured, crime-solving obsessed eleven-year-old whose powers of observation and logic are nothing short of mind blogging.

She assumes an almost orphan-like persona hailing from a large family of over-achieving scientists, but does not allow her intellectual lineage to hinder her career ambitions; to become an ace detective.

I adore the winning marriage of tongue-in-cheek comedy with surprise packed, interlinking mini mysteries. Spratt never shies away from using occasional highbrow language and concepts; instead, she flatters the reading prowess of her tween / teen audience and rewards them with intelligent character driven dialogue and seriously funny storylines.

You need not be a girl, a Trixie Belden nut, or even a ten-year-old to enjoy these books. I can’t wait to read the next one, Big Trouble or indeed the next five! The Friday Barnes series has everything; snooty boarding school bullies, romance, crime and more intriguing characters and plot twists than you can focus a magnifying glass on.

Perfect for mystery-lovers

Title: Friday Barnes 1: Girl Detective
Author: R A Spratt
Publisher: Puffin, $15.99 
Publication Date: May 2019
Format: Paperback
For ages: 7 – 12
Type: Middle Grade Fiction



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