Twitter_profile_imageWelcome to Penguin Australia’s blog for teachers, librarians and educators – bringing you professional development opportunities, book reviews, resources, guest bloggers, book trailers and much more. Have a question about books? Ask us and we will answer on the blog.

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Off the Shelf – December 2015 OUT NOW!

OTS_Dec_thumbOff the Shelf is a FREE resource from Penguin Teachers’ Academy for teachers and librarians. Each edition contains articles, author interviews, teaching resources and new books from Penguin Random House. Available from the iTunes Store, in Newsstand.

It might’ve felt like it was never going to arrive but it’s finally here: say hello to the end of term four and a well-deserved summer break. It’s time to recuperate, re-energize and reflect. And now that the lessons are almost over and exams are through, everybody can take some time for themselves and read whatever they want. It’s been another huge year for Off the Shelf, so we figured why not keep that ball rolling and take 2015 out with a bang. In this issue: we have limited success in getting Ickypedia creators The Listies to stay on topic; teacher Rebecca Johnson talks about a new approach to primary school science; we look at an exciting digital innovation in picture books; and John Boyne gives some insights into the creation of The Boy at the Top of the Mountain.

Thanks for your ongoing support of Penguin Teachers’ Academy. We have a lot of fun delivering such diverse content throughout the year, and we’ve loved getting your feedback at various festivals, conferences and events. We can’t wait to welcome you back in 2016, and we look forward to an even bigger and more exciting year ahead.

View in Newsstand OR Download Off the Shelf as a PDF



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Your V.I.P Invitation from Isobelle Carmody

Isobelle Invitation

Penguin Teachers’ Academy is delighted to extend to you on behalf of Isobelle Carmody, a special VIP invitation to Librarians and Teachers who would like to buy copies of the last book in the Obernewtyn Chronicles – The Red Queen, at a High Tea on December 12, 1 – 4 pm in North Melbourne at the historic Meat Market.

The occasion will feature a 45 minute in-conversation between reviewer Bec Kavanagh and Isobelle Carmody, about the Obernewtyn Chronicles and its long-awaited finale. The event will be introduced by by Penguin’s Laura Harris.

Allen and Unwin’s Erica Wagner will unveil Unmasking the Wild -a display of masks decorated by renowned children’s book illustrators, to be auctioned off online to raise funds for a refugee charity.

Nadia Wheatley modelling the magnificent mask decorated by Ken Searle.

Nadia Wheatley modelling the magnificent mask decorated by Ken Searle.

(If your library would like to host one of our incredible masks during the two month auction period, please let us know, and we will contact you separately.)

Some of the mask creators and a good many writers will attend. There will also be a music score themed to the Obernerwtyn Chronicles, sword dancers, a future-tellers’ tent, a photo booth, the screening of fan trailers and of course, a delicious High Tea.

The only things you will need are:

  1. a mask to wear until the Grand Unmasking
  2. glass for champagne and/or a tea or coffee cup
  3. A little store of gold coins for fortune telling and games.

(The Red Queen and/or whichever of the default books you select, should be paid for in advance by Paypal unless you contact us and make other arrangements) All money raised, save the book price, (which will pay for your book and contribute to covering the costs of the venue and staging the event) will go to one of our two charities. You are also welcome to buy a ticket to the evening event, the Masked Ball, however there are very few left so it will be first in first served.

If you would like to bring a friend or child to the High Tea, this can be arranged but do please contact us by clicking the link below. The venue has a strict numbers policy.

Email Event Organisers –




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The ‘Old School Diary’ of a Wimpy Kid Read-a-thon BONUS ROUND!













To celebrate the publication of ‘Old School’ – Book 10 in the bestselling Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney, we have launched a special BONUS ROUND for our Wimpy Kid Read-a-thon.

This is your chance to win a complete set of hardcover Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, signed by Jeff Kinney himself!

It’s easy to enter. Once you’ve read the brand new Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School, log in to your Read-a-thon account and answer five quick quiz questions about the book.

Beat the quiz to access the entry form, where there’s just one question: Where is the best place to store a priceless collection of autographed Diary of a Wimpy Kid books? The most creative answer wins.

What are you waiting for? You can find the BONUS ROUND questions HERE. 

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Island Home by Tim Winton – Unit of Work available now

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In Island Home – a landscape memoir, Tim Winton explores the story of how his relationship with the Australian landscape came to be, and how it has determined his ideas, his writing and his life. It is also a passionate exhortation for all of us to feel the ground beneath our feet. Much more powerfully than a political idea, or an economy, Australia is a physical entity. Where we are defines who we are, in ways we too often forget to our detriment, and the country’s. For over thirty years, Tim Winton has written novels in which the natural world is as much a living presence as any character.

Penguin Teachers’ Academy is delighted to share with you a comprehensive Unit of Work for Tim Winton’s 2015 book – Island Home: A landscape memoir, and the documentary that accompanies it.

Written by Laura Gordon, this teaching unit is intended to be used as an introduction to the study of Tim Winton’s texts, as inspiration for creative writing, or as part of any unit of work on Masculinity, Identity, Place and Belonging, The Australian Landscape or Australian Literature. You can find the Unit of work for Island Home in our Penguin Teachers’ App or on our website.

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Australia’s Second Chance by George Megalogenis

9781926428574Are you teaching Civics and Citizenship in a secondary classroom? We have the perfect book for you.

George Megalogenis, bestselling author of The Australian Moment, delivers a brand new book that covers almost every content description area in the Year 9 and 10 Australian Curriculum. 

Most nations don’t get a first chance to prosper. Australia is on its second. For the best part of the nineteenth century, Australia was the world’s richest country, a pioneer for democracy and a magnet for migrants. Yet our last big boom was followed by a fifty-year bust as we lost our luck, our riches and our nerve, and shut our doors on the world. Now we’re back on top, in the position where history tells us we made our biggest mistakes. Can we learn from our past and cement our place as one of the world’s great nations?

Showing that our future is in our foundation, Australia’s Second Chance goes back to 1788, the first contact between locals and migrants, to bring us a unique and fascinating view of the key events of our past right through to the present day. With newly available economic data and fresh interviews with former leaders (including the last major interview with Malcolm Fraser), George Megalogenis crunches the numbers and weaves our history into a riveting argument, brilliantly chronicling our dialogue with the world and bringing welcome insight into the urgent question of who we are, and what we can become.

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September/October 2015 Off the Shelf – OUT NOW!

OTS_Sept_e-cardSurprise! Off the Shelf has arrived a little sooner than expected. Why the rush? We simply had to get in early to wish you the best for the 2015 Diary of a Wimpy Kid Read-a-thon Challenge. The Read-a-thon debuted last year to a huge reception from young readers all around Australia, not to mention teachers and parents who were delighted to see children roaring through eight entire books in less than seven weeks.

This year, the bar is raised: to beat the challenge (and get the chance to enter a context to meet and interview Wimpy creator Jeff Kinney!), Read-a-thon entrants will have to read all nine Wimpy books between 1 September and 16 October. Inside, we hear from teachers and students about why they’re excited for a new Wimpy Kid Read-a-thon.

Also in this issue: you’ll hear from the beloved picture book team Jane Godwin and Anna Walker; a teacher shares the thrill of reading the first published novel by a former student; and three very famous names write about the importance of a positive outlook, and how to nurture this in young people.

Enjoy the coming break, and the start of the next term. We’ll be back soon with our end-of-year issue.

Get your free copy of Off the Shelf in iTunes HERE or download PDF here Off_The_Shelf_Sept2015_Blog

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Diary of a Wimpy Kid Old School Read-a-thon Challenge


How would you like a trip to Sydney to meet Wimpy Kid creator Jeff Kinney? This awesome once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is the grand prize in the 2015 Diary of a Wimpy Kid Read-a-thon Challenge. Plus, you can get a Wimpy Kid yo-yo just for signing up!


The ReaPrizesd-a-thon Challenge starts on September 1st. It’s open to everyone in Australia and New Zealand, and you can sign up right now.

Here’s how the challenge works: You need to read all nine Diary of a Wimpy Kid books between now and October 16th. After you finish reading each one, go back to the Read-a-thon Challenge site and take a quiz about that book. Complete all nine quizzes before October 16th, and you’ve beaten the challenge!

You’ll get a special congratulations video message from Jeff Kinney, and unlock the entry form for the grand prize… A trip for 2 people to Sydney, where you’ll meet Jeff Kinney on his Old School World Tour! You’ll even get to interview him for K-Zone. To win, you’ll have to answer this question: Who is your favourite Diary of a Wimpy Kid character, and why? Best answer wins! You can sign up and play by yourself, or challenge some friends and race to the finish! You could even ask your teacher if the whole class at school can try the Read-a-thon Challenge together.


On November 3rd, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School will be released around the world. Finally! To celebrate, there will be a special Read-a-thon bonus round, with even more cool prizes to win. Stay tuned! More information on this website during the Read-a-thon Challenge.



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Your unique chance to experience Matilda the Musical!


Matilda is the captivating musical masterpiece from the Royal Shakespeare Company that revels in the anarchy of childhood, the power of imagination and the inspiring story of a girl who dares to change her destiny. Inspired by the genius of Roald Dahl, with book by Dennis Kelly and original songs by Tim Minchin, Matilda the Musical is now playing at The Sydney Lyric Theatre to rave reviews.
Penguin Teachers’ Academy is delighted to offer a writing challenge to earn the opportunity for the winning student and their teacher to see Matilda the Musical at the  Sydney Lyric Theatre.

Teachers, ask your ‘REVOLTING’ students to write and submit 500 words or less using one of the following writing prompts:

Imaginative Text – “Change your story” Write a different ending for Matilda by Roald Dahl.
Information Report– “Be Miraculous” Write a faux scientific report about Matilda’s powers.
Persuasive Text – “Even if you’re little, you can do A LOT” Convince us that YOU are Matilda’s biggest fan.

One lucky student will receive:
2 x A Reserve tickets to Matilda The Musical at the Sydney Lyric Theatre
Merchandise Pack including a CD sampler, special edition Matilda book, programme and other “Fantastico” goodies.
The lucky teacher of the winning student will receive:
A double pass to experienceMatilda The Musical at the Sydney Lyric Theatre
Complimentary programme.
Complimentary refreshments on arrival.

PLUS there are 10 student runner up packs of a Matilda book and CD sampler.

 Submit your entry HERE

Terms and Conditions Apply

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Activities for #NLNW2015

nlnw_logo_smallAs the 17th National Literacy and Numeracy Week approaches ALEA has shared some great ideas to assist the celebrations and activities in your school.ALEA 40th LOGO landscape sm


Free book packs for ALEA members organising a teacher book club 

Teachers might like to form a book club to read and discuss A Fortunate Life and ALEA have free book packs available. A fabulous opportunity for members to meet for a coffee and a chat during #NLNW2015.

Activities for schools

Organise book club for students. Visit Reading Australia and explore the extensive teacher resources for each of the selected books. The activities are all linked to the Australian Curriculum and the English K-10 syllabus. Engage in the unit, select from the activities or introduce the book to your class through independent reading or reading aloud. Let parents and caregivers know your book choice so they can join in your book discussions.

Suggestions include –

Prep-1: Who Sank the Boat? by Pamela Allen
Years 2-4: The Treasure Box by Margaret Wild
Years 5-6: The Silver Donkey by Sonya Hartnett
Years 7-8: Playing Beatie Bow by Ruth Park

What else can you do? 

If the book clubs are not possible, select a book and read it across the whole school. One School, One Book is designed to create a shared reading experience within a single school community. Select a picture book and provide the opportunity for every student to read or listen to that book, and encourage every family to read the book at home during National Literacy and Numeracy Week. Activities at school can coordinate, promote and enrich the shared reading experience. This will get everyone talking and the activity may become a regular event at your school. You might like to select your own book or you may like to choose one from the Reading Australia lists.

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Roald Dahl’s Twit or Miss App

Twit_Or_Miss_IconIn Twit or Miss, two of Roald Dahl’s most disgustingly memorable characters have made the journey from book shop to app store for the very first time – but Mr Twit’s eating habits are just as horrible as ever, and Mrs Twit is still a grumpy old hag…

Now available in iTunes we just know your students will love exploring this fabulously disgusting app!



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