Booktopia Six to Twelve Buzz
May 2010 | Edition Six
Hello readers!

My book of the month is one of those can't-put-down kind of books, and for something completely different, a hilarious account of life on a farm during the longest drought on record.  I am also really excited this month about the re-release of a particular series that had a profound influence over my childhood - something that I'm not ashamed to admit.  Have I got you intrigued? Here's hoping!  I was also lucky enough to have a very short Q and A session with author Belinda Murrell, whose book is reviewed further down.  Be sure to have a read!

The 2010 Children's Book Council shortlist was recently announced, so I've included a couple of the categories that I think are relevant to my readers.  

You've probably noticed the format of the newsletter has changed a bit - at the moment Booktopia is working on giving me my own landing page on the site - keep an eye out for a section of the site dedicated solely to my favourite titles!  To tide you over, I've selected the cream of the crop to be included in this newsletter.  

Until next time, happy reading!
Amelia Vahtrick
Booktopia Six to Twelve Buzz

Stephen Measday

Send Simon Savage was destined to be my book of the month.  Someone or something out there was pushing me in Simon's direction.  First off - before  I'd even been told about it by the publishers, I had a whole conversation about the book with a friend of the author.  Then I was sent not one, not two but THREE review copies.  Normally I have to resort to bribery and/or blackmail to get a review copy I want but there I was being bombarded with Simon from all sides.  So I actually sat down and read it.  Forty minutes later I was completely engrossed and disappointed my normally painful commute was at an end.

Simon Savage has his idyllic life in Bondi shattered when his father dies in mysterious circumstances.  The day of his disappearance, government agents turn up at the Savage house and ransack Simon's father's office.  Knowing only that he was a scientist, Simon is intrigued by talk of 'top secret research'.  His questions are answered (in part) when his family are sent to England and he is enrolled in a school for Temponauts - time-travelling agents.  Simon's father was the man behind the science of time-travel and Simon has just found out that he has the perfect DNA for being a temponaut. 

His plans for uncovering the secrets surrounding his father's death are brought to a halt when he finds out about his first big mission - he is being sent to the year 2321.  No-one has even been sent to the Future before, but someone has opened up a number of timelines leading from the 24th back to the 16th Century.  Someone else has unlocked the secret of time travel, but are they using it for good or for evil?

For all those fans of Alex Rider, CHERUB and Artemis Fowl out there - this series is one to get stuck into.  Simon and his partner Danice (who isn't as normal as she seems) are a great team and I look forward to reading more of their adventures in time to come.  I guess I should thank whatever force it was out there pushing me to read this book - it was well worth it. 

Click here to buy Send Simon Savage
RRP: $16.99
Booktopia Price: $13.95 SAVE 18%   For ages 10+


Katrina Nannestad

Red Dirt Diary is one of those books that manages to be seriously funny and seriously serious at the same time.  Blue Weston lives on a property outside of Dubbo.  This year, her New Year's Resolution was to keep a diary.  Her brother Wes' resolution was to stop stuffing ball bearings up his nose and her brother Fez's resolution was to stop stuffing ball bearings up Wes' nose.  Not only does Blue have to contend with her two mad brothers (who spend their days building pig-drawn chariots in the back shed and breaking their bones), but her older sister has gone away to boarding school, her best friend has become boy-crazy in the space of two weeks, and the on-going drought has meant that the farm isn't going too well.  Most of the time, life in Hardbake Plains is great - Blue can't imagine living anywhere else, even if it means putting up with leech attacks in the dam, a pig named Gertrude who won't let anything get between her and a set of bagpipes, and the antics of her crazy twin brothers.  However, sheep are dying from lack of food, dust storms sweep across the farm, and the dam is drying up. 

Blue's year is one of ups and downs, and it may surprise you to hear that not only are three escaped criminals and a Scottish school teacher involved, but the Sultan of Brughistan makes an appearance as well. 

For anyone out there who enjoyed Audrey of the Outback, Red Dirt Diary is for you.  Blue Weston also reminds me of a favourite diarist from my youth - Penny Pollard.  If you've not come across Penny Pollard's Diary before you are in for a treat.  For readers aged 9 and up who enjoy a good laugh!

Click here to buy Red Dirt Diary
RRP: $14.99
Booktopia Price: $11.95 SAVE 20%  For ages 9 to 12 (girls)

Belinda Murrell

When Tilly has a school assignment studying the French Revolution, she can't imagine anything more boring.  But then her aunt Kara shows her a beautiful ruby pendant and tells her it belonged to her ancestor, Amelie-Mathilde, who survived the French Revolution.  Tilly goes to sleep that night clutching the ruby talisman and thinking about her ancestor long ago.  Imagine her surprise when she wakes up in the Palace of Versailles, 1789!  Amelie-Mathilde was a bit shocked as well to find a strange girl in pink pyjamas and rainbow socks in her bed.  She too had worn her ruby necklace to bed, wishing for someone to come save her from her arranged marriage. 

I've got to tell you - I was won over to Tilly completely during her first conversation with Amelie (who is moaning about needing a savior to come rescue her), when she exclaims "But who says you need a prince to rescue you?  I think you look perfectly capable of saving yourself."  I just love a good strong heroine!

Now aside from the fact that Tilly has woken up a few hundred years in the past, she also has to deal with the terrifying news that it is July the 14th, just hours away from the attack on the Bastille and the beginnings of the French Revolution.  Tilly has to convince Amelie that Versailles is not safe and somehow find her way back to the 21st Century.  This timeslip adventure is great fun for girls aged 9 and over - and if you don't know what timeslip is, take a look at the quick Q and A I had with author Belinda Murrell. 

Click here to buy The Ruby Talisman
RRP: $15.95
Booktopia Price: $12.95 SAVE 19%
Anne M. Martin

I think the most exciting bit of publishing related news I've had all year is that The Baby-sitters Club are going to be made available once again for a whole new generation of girls.  Some of you out there may think I am joking, but the Baby-sitters Club had a serious impact on my youth.  Ask any girl of my age and I am sure she would say the same thing.  Kristy Thomas, Mary-Anne Spier, Claudia Kishi and Stacey McGill (whose last names I didn't even have to go and look up, they are permanently imprinted on my brain!) are four really great girls.  They are problem solvers, they are hard working and they are certainly industrious - at the age of 12 they start up their own baby-sitting business.  Kristy has the idea one night after seeing her mother have to make a heap of phone calls to find a babysitter for her little brother.  Her Great Idea (and the title of book one!) is to have one phone number to call where you can reach a whole lot of baby-sitters.

Sound simple, yes, but this great idea is the basis of a really fantastic book series.  The Baby-sitters Club (The BSC) are the reason I was so desperate to start babysitting (though I never did foil an international gang of phantom phone-callers on any of my baby-sitting jobs) AND the reason why I have always, if slightly irrationally, had the urge to get a perm (like Stacey) and wear giant hoop earrings.  Luckily that second one never actually came about.  Anyway, all this rambling is mainly to show you what a phenomenon these books were the first time around - as they are sure to be again!

To start you off this time, Anne M. Martin has written a prequel to the original series called The Summer Before.  we learn what was happening in the lives of Kristy, Mary-Anne, Stacey and Claudia before the BSC came along.  Mary-Anne is trying to convince her father to give her a little more responsibility, while Kristy is dealing with the fact that her father probably won't be moving back in.  Stacey has to move from a big city to a small town, and Claudia has a first-time crush.  Anne M. Martin writes exactly what pre-teens want to read, and I'm hoping that you, like me, are excited to see her return.

Click here to buy The Summer Before
RRP: $9.99
Booktopia Price: $4.99 SAVE 50% - SPECIAL OFFER!!! For ages 8+ (girls)

H. Badger

Calling all Zac Power Fans!  Have you ever thought the Zac was just slightly lacking on the intergalactic journey front?  Well your prayers have been answered... Space Scout is here!  The year is 2354 and the Earth is fast becoming over populated!  There are nearly a trillion people crammed onto the Earth, so Space Scouts are being sent throughout the Milky Way Galaxy searching for Earth 2 - a second planet where humans could live.  At twelve years and three months, Kip Kirby is the youngest Space Scout ever.  He is sure he'll be the Scout to find Earth 2 - if he could just get his mother to stop freaking out about his first solo mission into Space.  Hovering over him with sachets of powdered broccoli and a Snot Sucker is super embarrassing. 

In The Big Freeze, Kip is on his first mission and has been saddled with a second in command (who just happens to be half man half wolf) and a ship with the worst personality type ever: bossy-babysitter.  Kip is supposed to be captain of the mission, but his space ship wont fly where he tells her to, and Finbar (his 2iC) spends a lot of time hiding his chair.  The first planet he lands on, Eden-7 has a temperature that clocks in at -316 degrees on Kip's Space Cuff.  Definitely too cold for humans to live on... but perhaps there are other life forms out there...

The Space Scout series is perfect for any young boys out there who have yet to really be grabbed by reading.  The story is fast-paced, and the full pages of text are broken up with diagrams of Kip's cool gadgets and space-themed equipment.  Each book sees him visiting another planet in the Milky Way, and with the first four books being released this month, you can really get on a roll with this series!  I don't think it is too soon to say we're onto a winner with Space Scout!

Click each title to buy:

The Big Freeze

The Jelly People

The Robot King

The Shrinking City
Each Book RRP: $9.95
Booktopia Price: $7.95 SAVE 20%  For ages 6 to 8 (boys or girls)
Anthony Horowitz

Some of you may be wondering why exactly I'm featuring Alex Rider in this newsletter - after all, Alex Rider has been around for a little while.  However, by my very scientific calculations, Alex Rider book one came out in 2000.  Everyone who read it back then is ten years older, and unless they're like me, have probably outgrown this most excellent series.  Therefore, I can use the launch of their lovely new covers to introduce Alex to whole new generation of readers.  So, lets meet Alex. 

Alex Rider is fourteen years old, and has lived his whole life with his uncle Ian.  At the beginning of book one, Ian Rider dies, and Alex's world view is turned upside-down by the revelation that his uncle was not, in fact, a banker.  Rather, he worked as a spy for MI6, and had (unbeknownst to Alex) been training his nephew to follow in his footsteps.  Alex can speak five different languages, has a black-belt in karate and has a love of extreme sports.  All very useful traits if you are about to become the youngest employee of MI6.  A few of the head honchos at MI6 are willing to let Alex live with his house keeper Jack if he does a few missions for them in return.  Reluctantly, Alex suits up with the latest technology (including a dart-shooting copy of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) and heads off on his first mission.

Stormbreaker sees Alex investigating Herod Sayle, a multi-millionaire businessman who plans to give a Stormbreaker computer to every school in Britain.  MI6 have decided this sounds too good to be true, and Alex is sent in following his uncle's death to investigate. 

This action packed series has long been one of my favourites, and I'm sure that this rebirth is going to convert many more readers.  Great for both boys and girls aged 10 and up.  Make sure you start with book one - this is one of those series that must be read in order!

Click each title to buy:

1. Stormbreaker

2. Point Blanc

3. Skeleton Key

4. Eagle Strike

5. Scorpia

6. Ark Angel

7. Snakehead

8. Crcodile Tears

Each book RRP: $17.95
Booktopia Price: $15.25 SAVE 15% For ages 9 to 12 (Boys** & Girls)

Daren King

I first discovered Daren King when talking to a fellow children's book enthusiast who refused to believe I had never heard of Mouse Noses on Toast.  In fear of having my children's book lover status taken from me, I delved into Mouse Noses and haven't looked back. 

King's newest book, Frightfully Friendly Ghosties is as every bit as charming as his previous offerings.  Tabitha Tumbly, Charlie Vapour, Rusty Chains and Agatha Draught are just four of the ghosties you will meet in this book.  They are really very nice, but the still-alives insist on screaming and screeching whenever a ghostie wafts into the room.  When Pamela Fraidy is locked in the attic by a still-alive, this causes more problems than you can imagine!  Have you ever wondered how a ghostie might pick up a key?  Well it is practically impossible.  It takes a large cast of characters just to get Pamela out of the attic, and launch into Tabitha's plan to make friends with the still-alives. 

Daren King's story is great for those who are just ready to tackle chapter books, and who'll love a little ghostie-humour as well!  There are enough pictures to ensure the book isn't too daunting a read, while the engaging and terribly cute story will appeal to parents and kids alike.  This is the first book in a major new series, with book two (Ghostly Holler-Day) coming later this year. 

Click here to buy Frightfully Friendly Ghosties
RRP: $12.95
Booktopia Price: $11.00 SAVE 15%
In This Issue

Send Simon Savage

Red Dirt Diary

The Ruby Talisman

The Babysitters Club

Space Scout

Alex Rider

Frightfully Friendly Ghosties

CBCA Shortlist

Book of the Year: Younger Readers

Picture Book of the Year

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The CBCA shortlist is highly anticipated every year.  The book of the year prizes awarded by the CBCA are the only awards that celebrate the best in Australian children's writing.  I've included here the shortlist for "Younger Readers" (which suits the 6-12 Buzz perfectly) and the hotly contested picture book of the year shortlist.  I know which ones I want to win... only time will tell if I am right!  A couple of these you might recognise from my previous Buzzs - what can I say? I have good taste!

Book of the Year Shortlist: Younger Readers

Matty Forever
Elizabeth Fensham
RRP: $14.95
Our Price: $11.95
Ages 7 to 10

Darius Bell and the Glitter Pool
Odo Hirsch
RRP: $15.95
Our Price: $12.95

Running with the Horses
Alison Lester
RRP: $29.95
Our Price: $24.95

The Whisperer
Fiona McIntosh
RRP: $19.99
Our Price: $16.95

Pearl Verses the World
Sally Murphy
RRP: $14.95
Our Price: $11.95

Tensy Farlow and the Home for Mislaid Children
Jen Storer
RRP: $19.95
Our Price: $16.95
Ages 9 to 12

Picture Book of the Year Shortlist

Isabella's Garden
Glenda Millard, Illustrated by Rebecca Cool
RRP: $27.95
Our Price: $23.95

Schumann the Shoeman
John & Stella Danalis
RRP: $24.95
Our Price: $20.95

To The Top End: Our Trip Across Australia
Roland Harvey
RRP: $24.99
Our Price: $19.95

Mr Chicken Goes to Paris
Leigh Hobbs
RRP: $24.99
Our Price: $20.95
Ages 4 to 6

Fox and Fine Feathers
Narelle Oliver
RRP: $27.99
Our Price: $21.95

The Hero of Little Street
Gregory Rogers
RRP: $29.99
Our Price: $24.99