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Newts, Lutes and Bandicoots

Newts, Lutes and Bandicoots is full of rhymes, riddles and objects to search for; these provide the clues for what to search for on each page. So the book becomes a language learning experience as well as an enjoyable read.

The book has detailed and humorous full-page colour illustrations that children will revisit time and time again.

The illustrations take the reader through many imaginative and colourful worlds, including a trolls’ lair, a magician’s cave, a circus, a castle, ski slopes and the outback.

See their next book: Witches’ Britches, Itches & Twitches!


ISBN 9781921479335 (HB in Australia and NZ, PB elsewhere, 32 pp)

AU $25 US
CA $20 NZ
GB £12 €14

ISBN 9781921869792 (eBook)

AU $8 US
GB £6 €7


Newts, Lutes and Bandicoots is a book that will delight young readers. It masterfully incorporates word and picture interplay into every aspect of book. Each spread is densely and colourfully illustrated with no white space. There is much for the reader to take in. Illustrations are accompanied by humorous rhymes and riddles. Once the reader works out the one-word answer to the riddle the challenge is then to find as many pictures of objects, actions and other things that rhyme with the answer. Hidden on each page (except the last) is a tiny newt or bandicoot playing the lute.

At the back of the book is a list of the riddle answers. The answer is also written upside down on the corresponding page to the riddle. I would have preferred to have only the list at the back as my son (who is very good at reading upside down) began to go straight for the answer before reading the riddle. The end of the book also boasts a list of things to be found on each page. I challenge anybody to find them all!

– Vicki Stanton, Buzzwords

I am a huge fan of poetry and riddle books for kids. I think they help entice reluctant readers with short verses and funny antics; they are great to share and as a parent or teacher there is nothing better than seeing a child giggling behind a book.

Newts, Lutes and Bandicoots is full of fun. Each page (or double page) has a witty rhyme and a riddle to solve. The illustrations are fun with oodles of different "goings on" to find on the busy pages. At the back of the book there is a list of things to find on each page also, so really this is a good value book chock full of activities.

Keep the kids entertained with Newts, Lutes and Bandicoots, challenge them with a tongue twister out loud or to find things the quickest. More fun then you can throw a marmoset at.

Angela Hall, Bug in a Book

In a gourmet café by the Bay of Biscay.
The seafood buffet was well on its way
When a curried satay
Caught fire on a tray
And flambéed the moustache of a waiter named Ray!”

This is the first rhyme in this unusual book which focuses on the multitude of ways that a particular sound can be spelt in English. It is accompanied by a riddle – “This creature crawls beneath the bay, Searching for rocks and sand each day” –and hidden amongst the rich full-page illustration is the answer to that riddle. But as the students search they will also discover a host of other items that have that ‘ay’ sound even though their spelling might be different. In this instance they could find archway, bay, beret, birthday, bray, buffet and more than 20 others! Each page features a different sound combination and takes the explorer on a journey through their imagination as they examine a trolls’ lair, a magician’s cave, a circus, a castle, ski slopes and the outback.

Given the popularity of books like Where’s Wally that have even the most reluctant readers poring over pages to spot the hidden items, this book is a winner on many levels because it teaches as the children search and encourages them to think and discuss and focus on the inconsistencies of our language. Also hidden on each page is a tiny newt or bandicoot playing a lute enabling even those not yet ready for the spelling aspect to participate.

Once the basics of letter/sound recognition have been mastered, the most commonly used skill in determining the correct spelling of a word is whether it looks right, and so developing visual perception and discrimination are critical skills. So combining the elements of rhythm, rhyme and riddle and accompanying them with complex, colourful and quirky pictures makes this a great book that will provide for hours of entertainment and learning. And then there is the next one, Witches, Britches, Itches and Twitches

– Barbara Braxton
Teacher Librarian
M.Ed.(TL), M.App.Sci.(TL), M.I.S. (Children’s Services)

With ‘rhymes and riddles to make you giggle’, this interactive book with fully illustrated pages, will keep children entertained while learning new words and rhymes, solving riddles, and trying to find the hidden word and animals secreted somewhere on the page. There is a riddle on every page with a one word answer. The answer has to be guessed then found to confirm if it is right or wrong.

The themes are varied with a double page allocated to most themes. They cover a restaurant, circus, castle, a colonial scene, a snow scene with animals and children, entertainment with magic tricks, camping, trolls and moles, a campfire and picnic in the outback, flying animals, shearing, and pirates. Each scene is extremely detailed with animated versions of the characters and places. Australian animals are depicted throughout the book. This serves to encourage children to learn the names of each animal and where they are to be found. There are endless discoveries to be found and observation skills are definitely needed.

There’s an element of fantasy in every scene and Mark Spoor has thought very carefully about how to give the most to every illustration. The riddle answers can be found on the second last page and on the whole of the last page there is, under a listing of sub-headings of page numbers, all the words used in the book and the question, ‘Did you find these things?’ This highly educational picture book is suited to the 6+ age group, and can be helped along by an adult presence to support and answer any queries, and encourage the use of a dictionary.

– Anastasia Gonis, The Reading Stack

Mark Carthew

Mark Carthew is an award winning editor, author and teacher, well known for his numerous books and series exploring wordplay, music, movement, drama and humour. He is the series editor of the award winning and internationally regarded illustrated drama script series VoiceWorks and contributing author and editor in the Chatterbox series for Pearson Education.

Mark’s recent books for children include Wicked Wizards and Leaping Lizards (Random House), Five Little Owls (New Frontier), The Gobbling Tree (New Frontier) and Can You Keep a Secret? Timeless rhymes to share and treasure (Random House).


Mark's website

Mike Spoor

Mike Spoor has illustrated more than 200 titles, including picture books, junior novels, maths books, magazines and teachers’ resources. He lives in the UK, where he also lectures in ceramics, as well as offering school workshops in both ceramics and illustrating.

His books for children include Wicked Wizards and Leaping Lizards (Random House), the Dinosaur Cove series (Oxford University Press) and Blackbeard’s Sword: the Pirate King of the Carolinas (Stone Arch Books).