Australian Writers of Influence

The Our Stories series from Black Dog Books takes a fascinating peek into our Australian culture–our cities, our events, our people. In this latest addition, author Bernadette Kelly reveals Australian writers of influence in an informative and engaging way. The book begins at the beginning–when ‘pen and paper ruled the world’–a novel concept for today’s children when texting and typing is more the norm. A world of paper and ink? This has to be something that will both boggle and entrance kids. Authors featured in the book include Marcus Clarke, Louisa Lawson, William Lane, Banjo Paterson, Mary Gilmore, CJ Denis, May Gibbs, Miles Franklin and Henry Lawson. The fascinating literary tousle between Lawson and Paterson is also included – entitled The Bulletin Debate. Entries are peppered with snippets of cool info on both the authors themselves and on life in Australia at the time. Photographs, maps, newspaper clippings, illustrations and even a peek at original manuscripts make this a well-researched, rewarding and engaging book. More proof that history is far from boring. Fabulous for schools and libraries. - Kids Book Review

The Pony Patch Series

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m not a pony person and I just don’t get it – this total and almost disabling love for and addiction to horses that so many little girls (and big girls… and big boys) suffer. Perhaps it’s because of the fact that if I step within two hundred metres of one, my eyes turn to watering cesspits of itchyness and the sneezing lasts for hours. I should be able to relate to this pony addiction. My young daughter is afflicted, after all, and I think I’m slowly getting there, especially after reading book one from the Pony Patch series by author Bernadette Kelly. Naughty Norton is a naughty boy, oh yes he is. He’s a persnickety pony with an attitude and can I just say, he’s hilarious.

This very clever storyline is told in the first person by young Molly Baxter, who is just the best pony rider in the world, with the best pony in the whole wide world… well, sort of. Naughty Norton doesn’t care for people standing in his way; he barrels straight through them. He doesn’t like to be harnessed; he scampers away. When presented with a sugar cube, its poor Molly’s fingers he likes to nibble on most, and you should see the drooling mess he makes whilst ingesting an apple. The scene with Norton’s foot hanging down from the tree branches above Molly’s head is just too precious for words. He gets around, this pony – but rarely with a happy young rider on this back. And despite Molly’s best intentions, it’s clear Naughty Norton is the one in charge.

This story had me laughing out loud. Its fabulously fun storyline is perfectly complemented by monochromatic illustrations by Liz Alger, making it a perfectly-balanced giggle-fest. And to make things even more perfect, the author has included a glossary and also notes on how to look after your pony at the back of the book. These notes instruct young pony riders on how to ‘take charge’ and are brilliant tips from a very experienced rider and horse-lover. I love the doubly whammy idea in this series – both fun and educational (which are really my kind of books) and Kelly really nails it with a witty, fluidly written reader anyone would love. Yes, even the non-equine-inclined, like me. More books in this series: • Book 2 – Losing Norton • Book 3 – Norton Saves the Day • Book 4 – Norton’s Blue Ribbon -Kids Book Review

The Pony Patch Collection

Do you know any horse-crazy kids? Lots of people have sports and hobbies, but it seems to me that children and adults who love horses want to spend every waking moment immersed in their obsession. Which is where books like this come in!The Pony Patch Collection is actually four junior novels in one. Written by Bernadette Kelly, and illustrated by Liz Alger, I love the style of this publication, which is perfect for kids who need some support in their reading. It’s a paperback, so is not too heavy to hold, despite being a collection of four. It has large print and lots of white space, so it’s not daunting the way a middle grade chapter book might be. It’s illustrated, which gives young readers lots of clues if they choose to read it independently.

Norton is a naughty pony that loves to eat. His owner, Molly, thinks he is the most perfect pony in the world. Kelly has created such lovable characters in Norton and Molly. There is much humour in the dichotomy between what Molly thinks, and what is actually happening. At the third jump, Mrs Withers said, ‘This jump is called an apex. It can be tricky, so it’s important to plan your approach.’ Norton had a plan, but it didn’t seem to be the same as mine.

Alger’s black and white sketches are just as full of action and life as the stories, and complement them beautifully. Often, Molly’s words don’t quite gel with what we SEE has actually happened, and Alger also manages to show such a variety of expressions on Norton’s face, making many giggle-worthy moments. After the four Norton books (Naughty Norton, Losing Norton, Norton Saves the Day, and Norton’s Blue Ribbon) comes a great glossary, information on looking after a pony, and pony facts. So kids are actually getting fun fiction stories linked to solid non-fiction facts, a definite win-win.

The Pony Patch Collection would be a great choice if you have kids who love horses, but it is definitely also worth considering if you have children who will enjoy humour and action in an easy-to-read format. It’s the perfect choice for home schoolers and teachers. — The Book Chook.

Riding High series

A fantastic series for young riders by Bernadette Kelly.Follow Annie Boyd on her adventures in this series written to inspire every horse lover!

Annie used to live in the city, be fashion conscious, and love going to the local shopping centre with her best friend Jade – until her father took a new job and her family moved to the quiet country town of Ridgeview. Now Annie is a country girl, and even owns her very own horse – a very sweet and loving chestnut gelding named Bobby. Along with her new found friends, Annie, Bobby and Annie’s little Jack Russell, Jonesy – find themselves in adventures that Annie had only ever dreamed of!

This wonderful series is not only entertaining – but each book is full of useful information on horse care and riding. Learn with Annie as she graduates from total novice to a competent rider – competing in her first event, taking a job as a stable hand, and having lots of fun along the way! Bernadette Kelly’s ‘Riding High’ series is a wonderful introduction into the world of riding and horse care. More than once while reading, we felt the urge to go and saddle up our horses – forget about work and go riding!

A real sense of horsemanship emerges as Kelly vibrantly describes the horses – from their endearing habits, to the struggles Annie must contend with in order to improve her riding. Every rider will relate to Annie’s first riding attempts, reading as we were with a knowing smile! There are currently eight books in the series, each with a unique and entertaining plot filled with stories of horses and adventure! We thoroughly enjoyed reading about Annie’s escapades – and can’t wait for the next instalment! — Horsepower Magazine

If Wishes Were Horses and Balancing Act

The first book sees Annie move to a small country town with her parents, and as she comes to terms with her new home and making new friends, she dreams of owning a pony.

This easy to read chapter book for independant readers has a well paced plot with large print. It is a perfect book to read simply for enjoyment. With themes about coping with change and developing new relationships, the novel could lead to discussions and writing activities about making and maintaining friendships and the feelings associated with this process. As the first book in a series of eight, the novel is sure to entertain and hold the interest of any young reader who wishes to own a pony. — L Doyle,

Balancing Act is book six of the series. Annie and her horse, Bobby, are becoming a formidable team. Knowing nothing about school equestrian events, Annie and her friends launch themselves headlong into the challenge. Annie, however, finds herself compromised on many levels.

The novel has a believable storyline with which readers, both male and fermale, will identify on many levels. Themes include peer pressure and relationships, honesty, self belief and family dynamics. Written in the vernacular of the target audience, the narrative flows quickly and is well sentenced. Chapters are manageable, and the characters and setting totally authentic. Specific language relating to horses and equestrian events is used, but is done so in context where meaning is apparent to the reader. — G Cale, NSW Dept of Education and Training

Norton Saves The Day & Norton's Blue Ribbon

Was there ever an animal as naughty as Norton? When Norton escapes out of his yard for the third time in a week and tucks into a bag of oats, Molly and her mother think he is bored and decide to take him to pony school. Norton has a trick or two to keep the other ponies on their toes. And when Molly decides to enter him into show day, Norton likes the look of the judge’s hat! Kids will love the humour as Molly says one thing and the drawings show that Norton definitely does not agree! — Australian Family Magazine