The Travelling Restaurant By Barbara Else

Left behind from a frantic escape out of the country, Jasper boards the mysterious and seemingly magical vessel “The Travelling Restaurant”, a eccentric yacht splattered with bright colours. “The Travelling Restaurant” was exactly as it sounded; a restaurant that travelled around on water. It served breakfast, lunch, and dinner, each meal carefully cooked by the culinary genius, Polly, and served by the incredible Captain/ waiter, Dr. Rocket. Fun times, brilliant food, and good friends weren’t the only things riding on the magnificent ocean steed, however. Danger rode with them too, as they battled ferocious whirlpools, cheeky monkeys, and terrifying pirates in an attempt to find Jaspers little sister, Silliba, and save their kingdom from the ruthless Provisional Monarch, Lady Gall.

I absolutely adored this book, all about families, friendship, adventures, and, of course, incredibly delicious food. I found it gripping, with the exact amount of terror, humour and plot twists to make a great read. The front cover is amazing too; it’s bright colours showing off the fun book inside. A definite must-read, I’d recommend this stunning novel to children from the age of 8 up.

Wandi by Favel Parrett

After being snatched from his home in the mountains by an enormous eagle, Little One, the smallest dingo of his litter, was injured and alone. With giant claw marks carved into his young back, he had no idea where he had been dropped. He was glad to find a human who, unlike the warnings Little One had heard, didn’t poison him or shoot him. Instead, this human gave him food, and somewhere to sleep for the night. This human took him to the vet so he could begin his long journey to become Wandi, or Wandiligong, the famous Alpine Dingo.

Based on the true story of a young dingo pup, Wandi is a spectacular story of kindness and hope, and is the perfect read for any child 9+. I especially loved how Favel Parrett, the author of this magical tale, managed to use words to make me feel like I was Wandi, watching his life act out from his personal perspective.

A Tale of Magic By Chris Colfer

Brystal, a fourteen-year-old girl, lives in Chariot Hills, where, like the rest of the world, girls and women aren’t allowed to read books or have a useful education, and magic is forbidden on pain of death. Everyone believes the rules are good and trustworthy, but Brystal knows there is more to life for females than getting married and having children. It may be because she reads in secret every night, or that she is so smart she can help her brother study for his law exam, but she is certain that she is destined for a life better than those of the other girls. And, soon enough, her theory is proven correct. While working as a maid in the library, Brystal comes across a “Justices Only” section. In this section she finds a book called “The Truth About Magic”. After reading the words within it, Brystal is shocked to discover that she is a fairy, and is whisked away by Madame Weatherberry, the fairy who wrote “The Truth About Magic”, to join her new academy of magic, along with 5 other young fairies. But the academy isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, though it may appear to be, with visits from strange, terrifying witches, and the news of a mysterious conflict in the Northern Kingdom…

This incredible story, with all it’s dizzying twists and turns, is one of my favourite of all time. I loved how unexpected the plot twists were, and how Chris Colfer made me feel all Brystal’s emotions by sewing descriptive language in between the storyline. I also loved the cover of the narrative; the artwork was exquisite. I would definitely recommend this fantastic novel to kids 10+ who love stories of magic, and enjoyed “The Land of Stories” the prequel to this book.

The Grandest Bookshop in the World by Amelia Mellor

In 1893, Cole’s Book Arcade, Melbourne, is the Grandest Bookshop in the World, a place of wonder and magic, dreams and happiness, and also the home of Pearl and Valley Cole, who live in the store. But life isn’t all books and excitement for the two children; their favourite sibling, Ruby, died, and to bring her back from the dead, their father has made a shocking deal with the dangerous Obscurosmith, in exchange for their bookstore. As a result, Pearl and Vally make a deal to a game of what ever the Obscurosmith chooses, an if they win, they get their home back. If they lose, not only will they lose the book arcade, but their memory of their father and their home will disappear too. Will the siblings be able to win the mysterious game? Will they win back their home, or lose it- and their father- forever?

This narrative, with all it’s plot-twists and excitement, is absolutely one of my favourite books of all time. I especially loved how Amelia Mellor wrote her story like a web, with not a single piece missing from the puzzle that is this book. I would recommend this marvellous novel to any people 9 years and way over.

Rabbit, Soldier, Angel, Thief by Katrina Nannestad

In the Spring of 1942, 6 year old Sasha is the only person left in his town that was once full of blue skies, beautiful flowers, proud geese, wooden houses and friendly neighbours. Everything and everyone who he ever knew is gone, enveloped in a soot-black cloud of smoke caused by the German invaders. After hours of stumbling through a dark wood, Sasha is finally found by a red army camp and given food and a place to sleep as if he is one of their own. And before long, he is. With a tiny uniform and tiny boots made specifically for him, Sasha begins fighting the war with his new army in the only way he knows; with love, happiness and song. But things take a turn for the worse when the battalion enters Stalingrad, a city famous for the great part of the war that took place there during World War Two.

This spectacular story based during the terrible times of WW2, follows the life of a young boy, from running like a rabbit from the Germans, joining the Russian army and becoming a soldier, becoming the angel of Stalingrad, before ending up in a hospital and becoming a thief, stealing things to trigger his memories. Written by the author of We Are Wolves, Katrina Nannestad, this incredible historical fiction book is perfect for adolescents 10+ who love narratives about World Wars One and Two and adventure tales.

When This Bell Rings by Allison Rushby

At 11-years-old, Tamsin is living next to the distinguished author, Edie St. Clair, and is used to seeing the flash of her red shoes among the boring grey sneakers. Edie is under pressure from journalists, readers and her publisher to finish her tenth and final book in the series, so, when Tamsin see’s her run past her window on her way to the town garden, later than usual, she decides to give Edie a drawing of one of her characters for moral support. Her talent sparks an unbelievable relationship between the two artists. Edie trusts Tamsin with with a bizarre secret, and when Edie disappears without a trace, Tamsin knows that she must be the only one able to find her. Can Tamsin find Edie St. Clair? Can she give everyone a happy ending?

Ideal for children 9+,’ When This Bell Rings’ is a definite must-read for fans of Allison Rushby books, aka ‘The Mulberry Tree’, ‘The Turnkey’ and ‘The Seven Rings’. I specifically admired how the author wrote this book about another book, always a hard thing to do, and, on top of all that, added just enough plot twists to keep the reader on their toes. The only problem I had with this novel was that there wasn’t more of it!

Nevertell by Katherine Orton

11-years-old, Lina has never seen life outside the prison wire. Having been born there, she can only dream about life beyond the gardening in the greenhouse, eating black hunks of bread for meals and sleeping in a crowded room with older women that has occupied her life so far. Only able to imagine her grandmother’s house in Moscow from what her mother had told her, warm and secure, unlike the bleak icy wilderness of the camp, and Lina longs to be there, not stuck at the prison. So, when the chance comes to escape, Lina agrees without thinking. But, outside the camp fence, it is dangerous. Cold, tired, and hungry, they must face shadow wolves, ice witches and a mysterious girl who only whispers the word ‘Nevertell’.

From the masterful mind of Katherine Orton, this superbly worded narrative is ideal for children around the age of 10. I particularly appreciated the plot twists that are embedded in the complex storyline, ensuring that the reader never knows what is going to happen next. I would absolutely rate it 5/5 stars!

Bindi by Kirli Saunders

11-year-old Bindi is not into math, but loves art class and hockey. Living in Rural Australia, she has her own horse, Nell, and her most favoured thing to do is roam around her country town, adventuring with her friends. After the Summer Holidays, her new school year starts just as it always does, new teachers, new class, new shoes and new bottle green and gold uniform. It seemed like this was going to be your average, run-of-the-mill year, but it didn’t go to plan at all. There was a broken wrist, a drought, a huge art assignment, the scariest bushfires her town had ever seen, and, to top it all off, a little baby black cockatoo with a broken wing. Can Bindi and her family make it through this colossal year?

As a shortlisted book in the CBCA, and winner of the Western Australian Premiers Book Awards, Bindi is Kirli Saunders third book, and her second verse novel. I would heartily recommend this 5/5 star book to readers 10+ who enjoy poetry and books with a strong meaning of hope and friendship. Credit must also be given to Dub Leffler, who’s illustrations are simply divine and really add meaning to the story.

Shockingly Good Stories by R.A. Spratt

From tall tales passed from mother to daughter about everyday happenings, to Friday Barnes logical schoolgirl mysteries, and legends of Nanny Piggins’ relatives inspiring Greek myths, fairy tales and events in history, this side-splitting, entertaining cluster of stories are made to be read aloud in silly voices, or in your head. This collection of twenty hilarious stories is perfect to be read before bedtime, in the morning, at lunch, or any other time during the day. Based on her amazing podcast ‘Bedtime Stories with R.A. Spratt’ this newly released book is designed to make you burst out laughing at random times, much similar to R.A. Spratt’s other bestselling series’, Friday Barnes, Peski Kids and Nanny Piggins.

I absolutely adored this collection of flawless fantastical fiction, R.A. Spratt has also done an incredible job of turning the ordinary things in life such as fairy tales, school and going for walks, and turning them into extraordinary things, providing the targeted audience (9 year-olds to adults with an absurd sense of humor) with the perfect must-read. As a bonus, she also has put some tips for reading aloud scattered throughout the novel. I would definitely rate this gut-busting book 5/5 stars!

The Last Bear by Hannah Gold

10 year old April’s Father is an important researcher, and his current project is analysing the temperatures in the Arctic, which has sent them off to Bear Island. Bear Island is a remote arctic wilderness where, until the ice caps melted, Polar Bears used to thrive. April believed her Father that Polar Bears no longer existed there, until she saw a strange shape on the horizon. The great, big, loping shape of a bear. Intrigued, April investigates, and meets Bear, lonely, sick, injured and hungry, the last Polar Bear on the island. Will she be able to help him, and nurture him back to health? Will she discover the courage in herself to help Bear get home?

This wholehearted story is absolutely brilliant! Set on Bear Island, Norway, I loved how April is described so well she feels absolutely real, and Hannah Gold makes you really feel how April would at that time. The Last Bear is perfect for any adolescent 8+ who love novels about nature and friendship. Of course, a special mention must be made to the illustrator, Levi Pinfold, who’s images of Bear and April really tie the book together, and one of the many reasons why I would definitely rate this book 5/5 stars.