Friday 8 May 2020

Reviews by Pauline Hosking

Pearl No. 6 The Helpful Unicorn by Sally Odgers, illustrated by Adele K Thomas, 2020.RRP $12.99 pb ISBN 9781760669287 

Ninja Kid No. 5 Ninja Clones! By Anh Do, illustrated by Anton Emdin, 2020. RRP$14.99 pb ISBN 9781743835128

Ella Diaries No. 18, Wildlife Rescue by Meredith Costain, illustrated by Danielle McDonald, 2020. RRP$14.99 pb ISBN 9781743832301

Reviewed by Pauline Hosking

These are new books in a highly successful series published by Scholastic Australia. They are for mid-primary readers (7+ years).

The Helpful Unicorn. Pearl and her friends Olive the ogre and Tweet the firebird quickly respond to a call for help. A dragon named Trudy is stuck in the Bothering Bog. Pearl uses her amazing pink magic to free the dragon and foil three horrible gobble-uns. This easy-to-read story has a positive message about being a good friend and helping others. Newly independent readers will enjoy the gobble-uns and their nasty songs. Each page is edged with pink and there’s lots pinker in the delightful illustrations.

Ninja Clones. Nelson Kane has a secret identity. He is the Ninja Kid, tasked with stopping evil Dr Kane from gaining control of the town of Duck Creek. Nelson lives in Duck Creek’s junkyard with his Mum, grandma and cousin Kenny. Kenny has a secret identity too − as Ninja Kid’s sidekick H-Dude.  

Nelson’s grandma is a clever inventor. She creates robot clones of the boys to protect their identities. The clones will take the place of Nelson and Kenny when the pair are off having adventures and are only to be used in emergencies. Predictably, there are lots of emergencies and the clones cause massive havoc. 

Ninja Clones is an action-packed read with some laugh out loud moments. The black and white illustrations have a cartoon-like quality which adds to the humour.
The book is a turning point in the series. Nelson finally discovers why Dr Kane is so intent on controlling Duck Creek. He also learns what has happened to his father.

Wildlife Rescue. Ella is a likeable Grade 5 student with a great imagination and kind heart. When the baby possum she finds is taken to the Wildlife Rescue Centre, she worries that it will be lonely. Ella visits the Centre and becomes so involved in its work that she ignores the concerns and interests of her best friends Ammy and Zoe. By the end of the book the three are reconciled and Ella has learnt a great deal about caring for orphaned animals.

As well as a sweet story, this book has good information about what NOT to do when you find a traumatised animal. Readers also learn how to sew a simple pouch for baby animals to sleep in. Wildlife Rescue is written in a diary format and includes lots of Ella’s trade-mark spelling (gooder, betterer, importerant, giganterous). The deceptively simple, quirky, illustrations clearly show what each character is feeling.

The dedication thanks Michele Phillips, a Pride of Australia nominee who runs a real wildlife rescue centre in Melbourne.

One minor quibble on page 90 there is an illustration of a circus performer standing in the middle of a horse’s back. This would hurt the horse. She should be balancing on the horse’s rump. This is a tiny mistake in a book focused on caring for animals.

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