Three novels

New book reviews

Kate Shepherd reviews three new novels – one for lower primary, one for middle school and one for secondary. 

Different stories for diffent ages

A funny read-aloud traditional tale for children aged 3 – 6 years, an epic journey that will change lives for the 12 – 14 year olds and a challenging story full of twists and surprises for 13 – 18 year olds.  Click on the book covers below to follow the link to Amazon UK.

One Little Goat by Ursula Dubosarsky and Andrew Joyner hb 9781742976921 $25.00
There are many traditional nursery rhymes with a similar theme but this one is exceptional because of the rhythm of the repetition of certain lines and the vibrancy of Andrew Joyner’s lively illustrations. Even the placing of the text on the page encourages the reader to read the rhymes aloud with greater expression and rhythm.

It is a nonsense chain tale like the Old Lady and the Fly and is based on a traditional tale that dates back to at least to the C17th. It is sung and enjoyed all over the world at the end of the Jewish Passover. For videos showing a number of variations of the song and for more information, see Ursula Dubosarsky’s website: Australian. (3–6 years)


Mr Romanov’s Garden in the Sky by Robert Newton pb9780143309307 $18.00
I found the first few pages of the book so disturbing that I almost didn’t keep on reading but I did and was glad. Lexie is an engaging character. She lives in very tough Commission housing. Her father died in a car accident and her mother can’t cope with life and takes drugs. Lexie is struggling but she has a nerdish friend Davey who helps even when he would prefer not to. When Lexie witnesses the violent incident described in the first few pages, she determines to befriend the Creeper, an old man. They meet by chance on the rooftop of the apartment block.

His real name is Mr Romanov and he has lost so much that he feels there is nothing left to live for. However his new friendship with Lexie and Davey brings some surprising changes for all of them. Robert Newton tackles difficult themes, often with humour and always with empathy. This is a story of determination and hope. (12–14 years)



The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr pb 9780141368511 $20.00
This is a challenging book. Flora Banks can only remember things that happened to her up to the age of ten. She has been told that this was due to an operation to remove a brain tumour. Everything after that time she can only remember for a short time before the memory fades away – until the age of seventeen when she kisses a boy and that memory stays with her. Such a momentous event for her! She is determined to travel to Norway by herself to find this boy since she thinks this is the key to getting back her memory.

Flora tells her story in the first person and because of her memory loss, she repeats herself a lot and writes copious notes to remind herself of who she is, what is happening and what she needs to do. The reader becomes very involved in her story and imagines what it would be like to suffer from this debilitating condition. Written from Flora’s perspective, the narrative is unreliable since she remembers so little. The ending contains many twists and surprises. It is an absorbing read. (13–18 years)


Kate Shepherd
Kate has been reviewing books and making lists of recommended books for International Schools since she first set up Austral Ed in 1993.

Feature Image: By kind permission from Andrew Joyner. 



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