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Checkout the latest recommended resources from the SLANSW Review Team

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  • 3 Feb 2024 5:10 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Title: The Weaver and the Witch Queen 

    Author: Genevieve Gornichec

    Reviewer: Natalie Lincoln

    Audience: Middle High School

    … a woman need not be defined by her men…she can stand for herself and make her own way” (p490)

    Genevieve Gornichec’s historical fantasy, The Weaver and the Witch Queen, begins in the adolescence of protagonist, Gunnhild, and sisters, Signy and Oddny. Here we are introduced to the backstory of these Viking women – each with their own courageous story to tell. Gunnhild suffers an unpleasant mother, while her friends are victim to their farm being raided, leaving them tragically separated. Their bonds are strong, though it remains to be seen if they are deep enough to overcome the challenges before them – from those that wish them harm, and from those they fall in love with.

    This novel is about women. Like many speculative fiction works, it delves into diversity and we are presented with an array of characters who enable a reader to explore the many guises people come in. What is enjoyable is the matter of fact nature of the characters and their exploits – Gunnhild’s wrestle with her conscience and marriage, Oddny’s monthly trials with her periods, and Signy’s silence about her traumatic ‘lost’ years when sold into slavery. Life, alongside the magic and mythology, happens in a very human way.

    Beside the female characters are a host of male counterparts – they too trying to navigate power structures and relationships in a Viking world. An unquestioned respect for the women in their lives and their importance to community is prevalent. Though steeped in hierarchy, Viking society doesn’t shy away from acknowledging the role of women in all aspects of life.

    Thematically, the novel seeks women’s truth. That being, as Oddny declares, “… a woman need not be defined by her men…she can stand for herself and make her own way” (p490). Alongside this, the story touches upon queerness and provides an interpretation of how a transgender person may have lived – providing, as is Gornichec’s style, a ‘real life’ representatiion of that diversity which has for so long been omitted from narratives. The novel is also about friendship, loyalty and the notion that family is what we make it.

    While the novel may involve witches, seers and magical animals, it primarily deals with real life. Life for women and the many paths they may follow. It is an authentic life, and for that it can be harsh. With true friends, and a sprinkling of magic, there is the possibility and hope that one can find the joy of both independence and connection with others. Highly engaging and readable, The Weaver and the Witch Queen would be best suited to middle high school aged students.

  • 3 Feb 2024 10:27 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Title: Twin Stars

    Author: Charlotte Clutterbuck

    Reviewer: Gabrielle Mace

    Audience: Stage 3 - 4 readers

    As the twins passed Athru, Sulaire felt the force of his hatred like the bear's stinking breath, and suddenly her head swam, and she saw, almost as if it was still happening, the Night of the Totems - the dark of the woods, the dim shape of the owl flitting over their heads, the ranks smell of the bear, the flash of moonlight on the salmon in its mouth.  Then her head cleared and she followed Bhoid down the track'. (p.98)

    'Twin Stars' is the opening book in The Gannet Quartert series, set in Scotland in the late Mesolithic Age.  The novel follows the journey of twins, Sulaire and Bhoid, who each believe their destiny is pre-determined in their tiered society. Sulaire is a talented healer and Bhoid is a natural hunter, but both are unable to hone their skills in public as these roles are reserved for the most senior members of society. The twins battle normal sibling rivalry and jealousy, whilst also protecting and caring for one another. As the twins become separated the intensity of the story increases. Twin Stars is set on an island in Scotland and the vivid descriptions of the landscape are amazing and highly detailed, with the author having grown up on the island.

    The story is a fast-paced, page-turner and sure to entice Stage 3 - 4 readers. Looking forward to reading the next instalment!

  • 3 Feb 2024 10:13 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Title: The 169-Storey Treehouse

    Author: Andy Griffiths

    Illustrator: Terry Denton

    Reviewer: Rhonda Bruce

    Audience: 11+

    Don't forget to read the second sign telling you not to forget to read the first sign telling you not to forget to shut the door before your start the the Weather up! (This definitely absolutely positively means YOU, Terry!)" By Order of Andy (P39)

    Andy and Terry have done it again. they have added another 13 storeys to their Treehouse. The problem is, what do they put on the 169th floor? As Andy and Terry cope with Terry letting a cyclone and their doppelgangers loose, they are also discovered by the Truancy Officer who insists on taking them to school along with Jill, where they are sent to the Timeout Room on their first day. What happens next? Read it to find out.

    Links to the English Curriculum

  • 3 Feb 2024 10:02 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Title: The Art of Destiny (Book 2 in the Arts of War Saga) 

    Author: Wesley Chu 

    Reviewer: Kellie Nash

    Audience: Mature 

     Jian looked aghast. 'But you can't change history.' 

    'Of course, you can,' boy, said the whipfinger master, 'It's one of the biggest perks of winning wars.' (Page 97) 

    This is a coming-of-age story where the child prophesied to defeat the Eternal Khan is not the chosen one. This is a coming-of-age story of chosen one, Jian, prophesied to defeat the Eternal Khan. This prophecy is wrong, and Jian is no different to the other students under the tutelage of grandmasters . We follow three protagonists, Jian, Qisami and Sali, each fighting for a different faction in this war. Chu writes them with complexity, guiding the reader to recognise each has flaws as well as admirable qualities and all sides of a war can justify their reasons to battle to the end. This is a saga celebrating magic, martial arts, and different types of heroes.  

    Audience: Goodreads classifies this novel as adult. Few instances of language-use would require readers to self-censor.

  • 11 Oct 2023 9:38 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Title:Bidhi Galing (Big Rain)

    Author: Anita Heiss

    Reviewer: Donna Dobson

    Audience: Stage 2

    “With no thought for his own safety, Yarri paddled his bark canoe, leading the way with purpose, and heading out to save as many of the townsfolk as he could”.

    A glossary is provided to aid the understanding of the Wiradyuri words, and there is a QR code which will help the reader learn how to pronounce the Wiradyuri words correctly.

    This is an historical text with full page illustrations, and tells the story of the 1852 Great Flood of Gundagai, and the heroic actions of two Aboriginal men ( Yarri and Jacky Jacky).

    The reader will gain insight into the Wiradyuri culture, local knowledge and language through the eyes of Yarri’s daughter, Wagadhanny.

    KLAs: History; Geography

  • 11 Oct 2023 9:23 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Title: Eleanor Jones is NOT a Murderer

    Author: Amy Doak

    Reviewer: Rhonda Bruce

    Audience: Older Readers (contains drug references)


    "I'm sorry I thought you were a drug-dealing, knife-wielding psychopathic killer."

    This time he does laugh. " Well, thank you Eleanor Jones for saying that." (Page 94)

    An immensely readable Australian novel by author, Amy Doak.  Set in a small country town, it takes the new girl, Eleanor Jones, and has her involved in an attempted murder on her first day at a new school.  This is Eleanor's ninth school in five years. As she and her mum move so often, Eleanor has a technique for moving into new schools - stay on the outer and observe.  Unfortunately, another student that she meets on her first day and offers to help with his chemistry homework is stabbed that night and Eleanor has left the last text message on his mobile. Eleanor decides to investigate the stabbing with the help of an eclectic group of friends.  A real page-turner. 

  • 21 Sep 2023 11:02 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Title:What will you make today?

    Author: Maura Perlot

    Reviewer: Donna Dobson

    Audience: ES1 - Stage 2

    “In a world where anything’s possible, what will you make today?”


    This book is a series of questions, accompanied by simple full-page illustrations that hold clues as to what is happening. Whilst a simple text, it is thought-provoking in that it encourages the reader to think about the possible answers to questions within the book. We each have a voice and a choice, and how we use our voice can bring about change for the better. The book ends with an interesting page outlining six new pedagogies for learning.

    KLA: PDHPE; Science & Technology; Geography

  • 21 Sep 2023 10:49 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Title: A Girl Called Justice

    Author: Elly Griffiths

    Reviewer: Rhonda Bruce

    Audience: all students

    ""Stella" said Justice, "What was the name of the girl who got lost in the fog?"


    "When we first did games, you told me that Miss Thomas had once lost a girl during a cross-country run when the fog came down. What was her name?"" (Page 205)

    Justice Jones knew that as soon as she saw her new school, it had the potential for murder. The Highbury House Boarding School for the Daughters of Gentlefolk lived up to her expectations - unexplained deaths, alleged hauntings, disappearing chamber maids and inedible food. When a blizzard cuts the school off from the outside world, can Justice save her friends from a killer?

    A beautifully written book by the author, Elly Griffiths, who writes the "Ruth Galloway Mysteries" for adults. Highly recommended for all students.

    Links to "Reading for Leisure: and the English Curriculum

  • 21 Sep 2023 10:06 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Title:Harriet's Hungry Worms

    Author: Samantha Smith

    Reviewer: Donna Dobson

    Audience: ES1 - Stage 1

    “And it was full of…slimy, hungry worms. Nine hundred-&-eighty-three of them to be exact”.

    A delightful alliterative text, with bold colourful collage-style illustrations. The facial expressions of the worms will amuse young readers as will the discovery of the benefits of compost, worms and worm wee. The book finishes with simple facts about worms, particularly what to feed compost worms. A picture book that would pique student’s interest in how worm farms work and their important place in the ecosystem.

    KLA: Science & Technology

  • 21 Sep 2023 10:01 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Title: The Crown

    Author: Emily Kapff

    Reviewer: Donna Dobson

    Audience: ES1 - Stage 2

    “We have never met, you and I. I speak from the future which is not yours yet. It is being shaped.”

    A book with few words, and beautifully illustrated with delicate colours and careful detail. A girl wears a crown made from rubbish, and she stands upon a landfill hill. In the rubbish she discovers a picture book depicting the beauty of nature in a time before hers. As she ponders the wonderful animals and environments that once were, the girl encourages us to protect the world of nature now. This book would be a great resource to use to introduce a unit on environment and waste.

    KLA: Science & Technology; Geography

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