ReadPlus is a collection of selected books and films arranged under themes. This web site provides lists, reviews and resources for librarians, teachers and parents about books for young people aged 5 to 18.
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Latest Review

Sep 22 2016

Tell the truth, shame the devil by Melina Marchetta

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Viking, 2016. ISBN 9780670079100
(Age: 15+) Highly recommended. Mystery. Marchetta's outstanding ability as an author stands out in this engrossing and at times, heart wrenching story. Chief Inspector Bish Ortley has been suspended from the London Met, and still grieving from the death of his son and the divorce from his wife. Drinking heavily hasn't helped, and then he finds out that his daughter on a student trip to France has been on a bus that was bombed. Desperate to find out what has happened, Bish races across the Channel and although his daughter Bee is safe, it turns out that Violette LeBrac, the granddaughter of a man who bombed a London supermarket, was on board. Bish had been involved in the arrest of her mother, Noor LeBrac. As he begins to investigate the bombing, Violette and another boy, Eddie disappear, and Bish begins to uncover the truth about what had happened in the past.
Bish is a compelling character who immediately gains the sympathy of the reader as he tries to cope with his ex-wife's pregnancy and new husband and a cantankerous teenage daughter while traumatised by his son's drowning. He has the knack of being able to get people to confide in him and gradually as he talks to the teens from the bus and their parents, a picture of what has happened begins to emerge. His investigative skills are put to the test as he navigates through a foreign language (French) and the social media that the students on the bus have used to communicate what has happened. The teens' different characters come alive on the page, with all the angst, that comes with coping with hormones and difficult family backgrounds. Violette is particularly compelling as she confronts what has happened in the past and Bee's efforts to come to grips with her brother's death and parents' divorce provide a deeper background to the reader coming to understand Bish.
The multicultural nature of Europe provides the setting for the novel. The racism that faces anyone who has a Middle Eastern background and the treatment that the LeBrac family has been given is an integral part of the story and is so realistic as to what is happening in our modern society. Marchetta's writing makes the reader ponder what tolerance and justice, right and wrong, is all about as Bish follows the trail of Violetta and Eddie, while overturning what had been considered the truth in the past.
An outstanding crime novel, Tell the truth, shame the devil will appeal to adults, but is sure to resonate with older teens as well.
Pat Pledger



More Reviews

Sep 22 2016

Born to sing by Sally Morgan

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Ill. by Craig Smith. Omnibus (Scholastic) 21015. ISBN 9781742991511
(Age: 5+) Highly recommended. Aboriginal themes. Family. Music. Whales. Maddie loves to sing. She makes up her own songs and sings everywhere. One of her songs is about the whales that swim near the coast north of Perth....
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Sep 22 2016

Pattan's pumpkin: an Indian flood story by Chitra Soundar

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Ill. by Frane Lessac. Otter-Barry Books (Little Orchard) 2016. ISBN 9781910959442
(Age: 5+) Recommended. Flood stories. Myths and legends. India. Many cultures have a myth about a great flood destroying part of their world, and this Indian story will be a wonderful addition to...
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Sep 22 2016

Sydney: word by word by Sonny and Biddy

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Little Hare, 2016. ISBN 9781760125523
(Age: All) Recommended. Cities. Sydney. Lifestyle. Sonny Day and Biddy Maroney work in Sydney and have created an almost wordless picture book which celebrates the sounds, tastes and look of their capital city for readers of all ages. Many well known...
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Sep 22 2016

Blue the builder's dog by Jen Storer

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Ill. by Andrew Joyner. Penguin, 2016. ISBN 9780670077809
Blue is a builder's dog - an ordinary builder's dog that can be found on almost any building site in this country. He rides in the ute to work, guards the tools, greets the subbies and signs the concrete slabs. (Oops!) He samples...
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Sep 20 2016

A child of books by Oliver Jeffers

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Ill. by Sam Winston. Walker Books, 2016. ISBN 9781406358315
(Age: All) Highly recommended. Books. Classic stories. Every few years a book comes along which extols the virtues of books and reading, told in a way which initiates discussion and sharing, illustrated so beautifully that...
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Sep 20 2016

Eleanor, Elizabeth by Libby Gleeson

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Ill. by Beattie Alvarez. Second Look, 2016. ISBN 9780994234070.
(Age: 11+) Highly recommended.
This is a new edition of the novel published in 1984, Libby Gleeson's first novel and Highly Commended in the 1985 Children's Book Council of Australia awards. Her 2016 introduction...
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Sep 20 2016

Captain Sneer the buccaneer by Penny Morrison

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Ill. by Gabriel Evans. Walker Books, 2016. ISBN 9781922179609
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Verse. Pirates. Humour. Captain Sneer is very assured of his own importance as leader of a gang of pirates on board his ship The Golden Isle. But he is somewhat scared of his stomach during storms...
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Sep 20 2016

One would think the deep by Claire Zorn

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University of Queensland Press, 2016. ISBN 9780702253942
(Age: 15+) Recommended. Grief. Surfing. Family relations. Another hard hitting novel from Zorn is sure to appeal to fans. It's 1997 and 17 year old Sam is trying to come to grips with the sudden death of his mother from an aneurysm...
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Sep 20 2016

Just the way we are by Jessica Shirvington

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Ill. by Claire Robertson. ABC Books, 2016. ISBN 9780733331640
(Age: 4+) Families. Difference. Shirvington presents the young reader with an array of different families. Each is introduced on a one double page spread, those who make up the family described and shown in the illustrations,...
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Sep 16 2016

Small things by Mel Tregonning

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Allen and Unwin, 2016. ISBN 9781742379791
(Age: all) Highly recommended. Mental Health, Suicide, Loneliness, Graphic novel. A child stares out from the front cover, large eyed, on the edge of tears, alone in his bed. Readers will wonder about the child and turn the pages uncovering the...
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Sep 16 2016

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

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The Raven Cycle bk 4. Scholastic Press, 2016. ISBN 9780545424981
(Age: 15+) Highly recommended. The fabulous Raven Cycle comes to a very satisfying conclusion in The Raven King. Gansey's quest to find Glendower, the ancient Welsh king is overshadowed by the fear...
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Sep 16 2016

The cow tripped over the moon by Tony Wilson and Laura Wood

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Scholastic Press, 2015. ISBN 9781743623534
Hey diddle diddle
You all know the riddle
A cow jumps over the moon.
It happened, all right,
On a crisp, cloudless night
On the second-last Friday in June.

But it didn't happen on the first attempt, or...
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Sep 15 2016

One photo by Ross Watkins

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Ill. by Liz Anelli. Penguin, 2016. ISBN 9780670077977
(Age: 7+) Highly recommended. Dementia. Family. Mental illness. When Dad comes home with a camera, one of those old cameras that takes film which needs to be developed, the family, Mum and their son, watch on. He seems to be taking...
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Sep 15 2016

Mr Chicken arriva a Roma by Leigh Hobbs

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Allen & Unwin, 2016. ISBN 9781925266771
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Travel. Rome. Tourism. After his successful trips to Paris and London, Mr Chicken now heads for Rome. As a child he had always been interested in Ancient Rome, and now learning the language from his beginner's book...
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Sep 15 2016

Dark room by Tom Becker

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Red Eye series. Stripes Publishing, 2015. ISBN 9781847154576
(Age: 14+) Horror. Warning on back cover: Not for younger readers. Darla hopes that she will have a new life when she and her alcoholic father move to Saffron Hills. But life is not easy at the local high school where...
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Sep 15 2016

Noisy nights by Fleur McDonald

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Ill. by Annie White. New Frontier Publishing, 2016. ISBN 9781925059663
(Age: 3+) Recommended. Farms. Noise. Animals. Sleep. When Farmer Hayden goes to bed, he tries to sleep, but the noise on his farm does not let him. His animals talk all night. The cows moo, the sheep maa, the horses...
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Sep 14 2016

Guinness World Records 2017

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Guinness World Records, 2016. ISBN 9781910561324
(Age: 8+) Highly recommended. The Guinness World Records book needs no introduction to its many fans, who will eagerly pore over the Guinness World Records 2017 with the new and strange, fascinating, weird and horrible 4,000...
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Sep 14 2016

The famishing vanishing mahoosive mammoth by Hollie Hughes

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Ill. by Leigh Hodgkinson. Bloomsbury, 2016. ISBN 9781408862780
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Mammoths, Appetite, Verse, Friendship. When Mammoth wakes one morning he finds that he is so hungry that he is vanishing. Bug tells him not to worry as he will find food for him, and pulls a...
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Sep 14 2016

Elmer and the race by David McKee

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Andersen Press, 2016. ISBN 9781783444557
(Age: 4-7) Recommended. Elephants. Competition. Elmer the patchwork elephant is back and this time he organises a race when all the young elephants decided that they wanted to find out who was the fastest runner. Each had a different colour and...
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Sep 13 2016

Escape to the Moon Islands by Mardi McConnochie

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Quest of the sunfish series, bk 1. Allen and Unwin, 2016. ISBN 9781760290917
(Age: Upper primary, Junior secondary) This fast paced novel, the first of a trilogy, tells of twelve year old twins, Will and Annalie, and their search for their father, Spinner. He has disappeared in...
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Sep 13 2016

The Ghostfaces by John Flanagan

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Brotherband bk 6. Random House, 2016. ISBN 9780857980113
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. I have read a number of books in this series (but not all) and each of them is thrilling, dramatic and full of action, and worthy of setting aside time to read and definitely worth recommending...
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Sep 13 2016

Quick as a wink, Fairy Pink by Lesley Gibbes and Sara Acton

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Working Title Press, 2016. ISBN 9781921504860
(Age: 3+) Recommended. Bedtime story. Fairies. Verse. Children will get into bed 'as quick as a wink' to hear this verse story read out to them. They will predict the word that rhymes and laugh along with the sequence of events that precedes...
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Sep 13 2016

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, retold by Terry Deary

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Terry Deary's Shakespeare's tales series. Bloomsbury, 2016. ISBN 9781472917867
(Age: 7+) Recommended. Romeo and Juliet. Another in this series taking Shakespeare's stories to a wider audience, offers Romeo and Juliet as seen by the boy who plays Juliet as well as general dogsbody...
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Sep 13 2016

Up, up and away by Tom McLaughlin

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Bloomsbury, 2016. ISBN 9781408870150
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Experimentation. Science. Space. This picture book will initiate lots of discussions about what makes up a planet, how they are made, what we can see in the night sky and so on, as Orson makes his own planet, but then has to...
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Sep 13 2016

Snow White: a graphic novel by Matt Phelan

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Walker Books Australia, 2016. ISBN 9780763672331 (Age: Secondary) Traditional fairytales continue as such a rich source for adaptations, retellings and reworkings that one is often amazed that anyone can come up with a new approach.
Acclaimed graphic novel creator Matt Phelan has proven...
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Feb 22 2016

Fiction gems: Recommended fiction lists for Upper Primary and Lower Secondary students by Fran Knight and Pat Pledger

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Pledger Consulting, 2016. ISBN 9781876678456
Teacher reference. What a great resource for those charged with purchasing or recommending reading material for Upper Primary and Lower Secondary students. The Middle School aged reader can have specific interests or reading demands and keeping...
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