Just who is Kiana Kamaka?

Kiana Kamaka is a show-stopper. I mean, she’s really beautiful.

So what does Kiana look like? She’s nine years old. Her skin is a perfect golden-brown. Her hair flows down her back like a dark chocolate waterfall. Like her best friend, Fallon Connolly, she wears expensive clothes and shoes from the surf shop. And she just LOVES nail polish.

Kiana is pretty good at most things, including swimming and running. So she always does well at the school carnivals.

Kiana is not super smart. But she’s a loyal friend, and that counts for a lot.

She doesn’t really have a problem with Ava Reid. But Fallon does, and that’s good enough for Kiana.

You can meet Kiana in the Birdgirl series. Check out these titles:

Swimming surprises

Cross country capers

Athletics antics

Just who is Fallon Connolly?

Fallon Connolly knows she’s pretty. She’s heard her mother say it a zillion times.

So what does Fallon look like? She’s nine years old. She has blue eyes and long shiny blonde hair. She usually wears her hair in a fancy braid, which she tosses over her shoulder. She likes to wear expensive clothes and shoes from the surf shop.

Fallon is good at a lot of things. I mean really good. She goes to athletics in summer and she always comes first in the 100 metres. She also goes to swimming club. She usually comes first in the 50 metres in all swimming styles. So she expects to win all the races she enters at the school carnivals and be the age champion.

Fallon is pretty smart. Not smart enough to win a maths award. But smart enough to get other people into trouble. And to stay out of trouble herself.

Fallon doesn’t like Ava Reid. Not because Ava’s done anything bad to her. But because Ava looks like a creepy piano teacher who used to hit Fallon’s knuckles with a ruler.

Fallon’s best friend is Kiana Kamaka. Together, Fallon and Kiana try to keep Ava from thinking she’s more important than she really is.

You can meet Fallon in the Birdgirl series. Check out these titles:

Swimming surprises

Cross country capers

Athletics antics

Just who is Ava Reid? 

Ava Reid sees herself as an ordinary girl. Not beautiful, not plain, but somewhere in between. I guess a lot of you are just like her.

So what does Ava look like? Well, she’s nine years old. She’s got masses of curly red hair. She thinks it’s puffy and annoying, but I think it’s beautiful. She’s also got bright blue eyes. She wears clothes her mother chooses because she doesn’t like to go shopping.

 Ava is very smart. But she doesn’t want people to know that. Because if they knew, they’d call her a nerd.

 Ava wants to fit in and take part in all the fun things at school. But two girls – Fallon Connolly and Kiana Kamaka – have it in for her. Whenever they can, they call her names and take her stuff. Ava doesn’t know why. She wishes they’d just get lost. But they won’t.

 You can meet Ava in the Birdgirl series. Check out these titles:

Swimming surprises

Cross country capers

Athletics antics

Book 3: Athletics antics 

Chapter 1

Ava Reid was the kind of girl who couldn’t ignore a crying baby.

Cheep! Cheep! Cheep!

She glancedtothe right thentothe left. Good, no-one was watching. Teachers definitely did not approve of students walking in the school gardens.

She squeezed between two grevilleas with big red flower spikes. The sweet smell of nectar filled her nose. Wood chips crunched under her shoes.

Cheep! Cheep! Cheep!

The sound was getting louder. Ava walked along the fence behind the grevilleas. A honey bee buzzed past her face and she jerked her head backwards.

Cheep! Cheep! Cheep!

The sound was getting even louder. Ava put her hands over her ears. She shuffled forwards and scanned the ground.

Suddenly, she saw a small ball of grey feathers on the wood chips.

 “A baby Noisy Miner!” she exclaimed.

She crept closer and squatted down in front of it. It stayed still.

Maybe it can’t fly yet, she thought. Maybe it fell out of its nest.

Then she noticed something strange: the baby bird’s head was facing backwards and pressed up against its wing.

What’s wrong with it? she wondered.

She leaned over and picked it up.

Shriek! Shriek! Shriek! Shriek!

A Noisy Miner landed on the fence.

Shriek! Shriek! Shriek! Shriek!

Another Noisy Miner landed beside the first one.

Shriek! Shriek! Shriek! Shriek!

Two more Noisy Miners landed in the grevilleas near Ava.

“Is this your baby?” Ava asked them. “I won’t hurt it.”

Shriek! Shriek! Shriek! Shriek!

Suddenly, one of the adult birds flew at Ava. She ducked. The baby bird flopped around on her hands then dropped onto the ground.

“Oh, no!” Ava picked it up again. “I’m so sorry, baby. Are you all right?” She cupped her hands around it.

Shriek! Shriek! Shriek! Shriek!

Another adult bird flew at Ava. She ducked again.

“I’m tryingtohelp,” she muttered.

She sat on the ground and opened her hands a little bit. The baby bird struggled to get free.

Cheep! Cheep! Cheep!

The adult birds hopped from branch to branch.

Shriek! Shriek! Shriek! Shriek!

Ava ignored them. She moved her hands around so she could examine every side of the baby bird. Before long, she had worked out what was wrong with it.

Sticky strands of spider web had joined the baby bird’s beak to its wing. It couldn’t move its head at all.

“You poor little thing,” said Ava. “Don’t worry, I’ll help you.”

Ava peeled a strand of spider web off the baby bird’s beak.

Cheep! Cheep! Cheep!

The baby bird burst out of her hands. It crashed intoa grevillea and landed on its back with its feet in the air.

Ava sighed. She walked over to the grevillea and picked the baby bird up for the third time.

Shriek! Shriek! Shriek! Shriek!

An adult bird flew at Ava. She hunched over the baby bird.

“Stay still,” she told it.

She loosened the other strands of spider web with her fingernail. She held the wing feathers down with her thumb so she didn’t pull any of them out. Then one by one, she peeled the strands of spider web off.

Suddenly, the baby bird flung its head forwards.

“There you go!” said Ava. “Now you can see where you’re going.”

She put the baby bird on the ground and backed away from it.

The adult birds crowded around it. One fed it a small grasshopper.

As it ate, Ava saw rainbow colours dance along on its wings. She blinked and they were gone.

Ava smiled a secret smile.

Ava scrambled out of the garden.

“Ewwww! Look what just came out of the garden.”

Ava spun around. Her smile melted away. The two most popular girls in her class, Fallon Connolly and Kiana Kamaka, were walkingtowards her. Fallon wore volleys with silver shoe laces. Kiana wore silver glitter nail polish.

Always out of uniform, thought Ava.

Fallon and Kiana looked Ava up and down.

“It looks like a slug,” said Fallon, sneering.

“Yeah, slugs live in gardens,” said Kiana.

Ava shifted from one foottothe other. If only she could think of a clever reply. But she always thought of onetoo late, when they were gone.

Fallon laughed nastily. “Awesome hair!”

Ava’s hands shot uptoher head. She rubbed her curly red hair. Leaves and grevillea flowers rained on her shoulders. She flicked them off.

 “No wonder you joined Mr Fernleigh’s Year 5 Gardening Group,” said Fallon. She pulled her braid forwards over her right shoulder and tilted her chintothe left. Her blonde hair gleamed in the sunshine.

“Yeah, no wonder,” echoed Kiana.

Fallon give Ava a superior look. “The gardening group is for losers.”

Kiana nodded. “Yeah, we wouldn’t join it.”

“They’re not losers,” said Ava. “They’re my friends.”

“You don’t have any friends.”

Ava scowled. “Yes, I do.”

Fallon opened her mouth then closed it again. The sports teacher, Miss Meagher, was stridingtowards them.

“Hello girls,” she said with a dazzling smile. “I’m putting the program for the School Athletics Carnival on the sports noticeboard. Would you liketotake a look?”

Fallon and Kiana smiled sweetly at the teacher.

“Yes, Miss Meagher,” they chorused.

Suck ups, thought Ava.

Miss Meagher strode off. Kiana followed her. Fallon looked at Ava.

“I’m goingtoenter every event,” she said. “I’m goingtobe the Junior Girls Athletics Champion this year.”

Shetossed her head and followed Kiana and Miss Meagher.

Ava knew that Fallon was good at athletics. She saw her training every Saturday morning when she and her mother went past the sports oval on their waytothe shopping centre.

Fallon probably will win the trophy, she thought glumly.

Ava was not a fast runner. She was not a good jumper either. But she was quite a good thrower.

I’ll enter the throwing events, she decided. I’ll show her that I’m good at athletics too.

Athletics antics

Book 2: Cross country capers 

Chapter 1

“Phew! Something smells like a cross between a wet dog and a publictoilet!”

Ava pushed her curly red hair off her face. She picked up a box of seedlings and gave the compost heap a dirty look.

The teacher in charge of the Year 5 Gardening Group, Mr Fernleigh, walked over to her. He stepped on the balls of his feet, leaning forwards as if he was walking intoa strong wind.

“I see you got first pick, Ava,” he said when he reached her. “What have you got there?”

“Wattles.”

“Ah, Acacia,” said Mr Fernleigh with a dreamy smile. “It’s my favourite genus of plants.”

“Oh, right,” said Ava, who didn’t know much about the scientific names of plants. “I like wattles,too. My favourite is Queensland Silver Wattle. I’ve got three!” She lifted a tube containing a seedling out of the box.

Mr Fernleigh stroked the tiny plant. He seemedtobe unaware of the contrast between his ragged fingernails and the plant’s velvety leaves.

“Lovely,” he said. “Right-o. We’d better make a start.”

He picked up a large gum leaf.

Ava tilted her headtoone side and frowned. “What’s that for?”

“You’ll see.”

He pressed the gum leaftohis lips and gave a piercing whistle.

Ava jumped in fright and threw her hands over her ears.

“That was really loud, Sir!”

The other members of the gardening group looked at Mr Fernleigh in amazement.

“Gather round, everybody,” he called.

They hastened over and stood in front of him.

“How did you do that, Sir?”

“Can you show us?”

“Please!”

“That was awesome!”

Mr Fernleigh held up one hand. “All in good time. Let’s focus on the task at hand. Does anyone know howtoplant a seedling? What would you do first?”

A large boy with golden skin put his hand up.

“Yes, Christopher?”

“Dig a hole twice as big as I need.”

“Spot on, Christopher. Does anyone know why?”

Several students put their hands up. Mr Fernleigh chose a girl whose white hair looked like stuffing bursting out of a cushion.

“Flossie?”

“To loosen the soil so the roots can go intoit.”

“Spot on, Flossie. What would you do next?”

Flossie picked at her bottom lip. “I’d water the seedling.”

“Why?”

Flossie rolled a flake of lip skin between her finger and thumb. “So the soil wouldn’t fall off the roots when I pulled the seedling out of the tube.”

“Excellent. What would you do next? Someone else. Ava?”

Ava noticed that the two most popular girls in her class, Fallon Connolly and Kiana Kamaka, were walkingtowards the Gardening Group. She felt her cheeks redden.

“Squeeze the sides of the tube. Then press the bottom of the tube with my thumb. Then slowly pull the seedling out,” she muttered.

“Excellent. Keep going. But speak up so everyone can hear you.”

Ava glanced at Fallon and Kiana. They were almost within earshot. She fired sentences out of her mouth like an auctioneer. “Put the plant in the hole. Make sure the surface of the seedling’s soil is level with the surface of the surrounding soil. Fill in the hole. Press the soil so it’s firm.” She drew in a deep breath.

“Slow down!” exclaimed Mr Fernleigh with a laugh. “But that’s exactly right.”

Ava glanced at Fallon and Kiana again. They were lurking behind the gardening group like sharks lurking behind the breakers at the beach. Fallon was holding a note.

“One moment, girls,” Mr Fernleigh saidtothem. “Can someone else tell me what they would do next?”

“Water it?” whispered a girl with short black hair, called Brydee. She kept her eyes fixed on her feet.

Mr Fernleigh looked at her kindly. “Can you tell me why?”

Brydee twisted her handstogether. “To pack down the soil? And give it a drink?”

“Spot on, Brydee. What would you do last? Someone else.”

“Put mulch around it,” said a wiry boy, called Nikhil.

“Why would you do that?”

“To stop the water evaporating,tokeep the soil moist andtostop weeds growing.”

“Excellent! You lot are really on the ball.”

The members of the gardening group smiled at each other. Fallon groaned and re-braided the end of her blonde hair. Kiana inspected her nail polish.

“Is everyone clear on whattodo?” asked Mr Fernleigh. “See me if you have any questions. Right-o, you can make a start.”

He turnedtoFallon and Kiana. “Now, what can I do for you?”

Fallon thrust the note forwards. “Mr Benson asked ustogive you this.”

Mr Fernleigh glanced at the note.

“Gather round, everybody,” he called.

The members of the gardening group put down their seedlings and tools and walked back to Mr Fernleigh.

“Mr Benson has asked me to read this note to you,” he said. “ ‘The School Cross Country will be held next Friday, the twenty-second of April. All students eight years and older are encouragedtoparticipate.’ Right-o, that’s all. You can go backtoyour planting.”

Ava walked backtoher seedlings. She heard footsteps and spun around. Fallon and Kiana were walking behind her.

“You’re not going in the cross country, are you Ava?” asked Fallon, stroking her braid.

“I don’t know,” said Ava.

“You can’t run,” said Fallon. “You came last in the100 metrerace in P.E.”

Ava felt her cheeks redden. “My shoe came off. Anyway, long distance is different.”

“It’s harder,” said Fallon with a superior look. “If you can’t run 100 metres, you won’t be abletorun 2000 metres.”

Ava clenched her fists. “I will be abletorun 2000 metres. In cross country, you don’t havetorun fast.”

“Just as well,” said Fallon with a sneer.

“Yeah, just as well,” echoed Kiana.

Fallon and Kiana high-fived each other and walked off, laughing.

Ava scowled as she watched them go. I AM going in the cross country, she decided.

Cross country capers

Book 1: Swimming surprises 

Chapter 1

It was a brand new school year, but Ava Reid knew that before long she would be left out.

And she was right.

“Listen up, Year 5. Today you will be working in pairs,” said her teacher, Mr Kelly, on Day 2. “So I want each of you to find a partner.”

Friends rushed towards each other. Soon all the students stood in pairs … except Ava.

“Each pair is going to make a birdbath for the school gardens,” said Mr Kelly.

The students murmured to each other.

Mr Kelly clapped his hands. “A bit of shoosh, please,” he said. He flipped up his spectacles and rubbed his eyes with his crusty knuckles. “This is the procedure I want you to follow. First: get a terracotta saucer and roughen the inside surface by rubbing it with sandpaper.”

“What for?” asked a solid boy with hair that stuck up at the crown.

Mr Kelly peered over his spectacles at the class. “Would anyone like to answer Boris’s question?”

A tall girl put her hand up.

“Yes, Jemima?”

“So the birds don’t slip over,” said Jemima.

Boris flapped his arms, staggered sideways and fell to the ground. Everyone laughed, except Mr Kelly.

“That’s right, Jemima. Second: place your saucer near some shrubs or trees.”

“Why?” asked a girl with wavy brown hair that reached her waist.

“Can someone answer Emelia’s question?”

Ava put her hand up. Mr Kelly nodded in her direction.

“So the birds can hide from predators.”

“What are predators?” asked Emelia.

“Things that eat birds,” said Ava. “Like cats.”

“Very good, Ava,” said Mr Kelly.

The students murmured again. Mr Kelly clapped his hands. “Third: place some stones in your saucer.” He snapped his suspenders. “And fourth: put water in your saucer. But make sure that the water is no more than five centimetres deep. Can anyone tell me why?”

Ava was the only student who put her hand up. Mr Kelly nodded in her direction again.

“So the birds don’t drown.”

“That’s right, Ava,” said Mr Kelly. “Birds can drown in deep water. Especially little ones.” He blinked rapidly in the bright summer sunlight. “Off you go.”

The students rushed overtothe plastic crates that held the saucers and sheets of sandpaper.

Mr Kelly ambled over to Ava. “Don’t you have a partner, Ava?”

“No,” she said. She felt her cheeks redden.

“Never mind. You’ll probably finish before the others because you won’t have anyone to chat to.”

But I’d like to have someone to chat to, she thought. She joined the end of the line in front of the crates.

When Ava got her saucer and sandpaper, she sat in the shade. She rubbed the sandpaper back and forth across the inside of the saucer until her arms ached.

“How is your birdbath coming along, Ava?”

Ava jumped in fright. Mr Kelly was standing in front of her.

“It’s all good,” she said hastily. “I’ve finished roughening the inside surface.”

Mr Kelly ran a finger over the inside surface of Ava’s saucer. Ava had to stop herself from counting the spots on the back of his hand.

“It does feel rough enough,” he agreed. “You can make your birdbath over there.” He pointedtoa garden behind the bike shed.

Ava chose a spot beside a prickly hakea shrub and raked it until it was smooth and level. She placed her saucer on the spot. She put three stones in it then poured water into it from a large watering can.

She sat back on her heels and admired her birdbath.

Now I just have to keep it clean, she thought.

She gave the watering can to Boris.

Boris pointed. “Look at your birdbath!”

Ava turned and saw a Crested Pigeon drinking the water. “My first bird!”

The bird moved and Ava saw rainbow colours dance across on its breast feathers.

“Wow!”

“What?” said Boris.

Ava looked at the bird again. It was a plain grey colour.

“Nothing,” she said in a puzzled voice.

The sports teacher, Miss Meagher, strode along the path. Her legs looked like long brown scissors, snipping their waytowards Ava’s class.

“Good morning, boys and girls,” said Miss Meagher.

“Good morning, Miss Meagher.”

Mr Kelly ambled towards her.

“Good morning, Mr Kelly,” she said.

“Good morning, Miss Meagher.”

The two most popular girls in the class, Fallon Connolly and Kiana Kamaka, walked over to Ava.

“You look busy,” said Fallon, checking the daisies she had tucked into her blonde braid.

“Yeah, very busy,” agreed Kiana, inspecting her nail polish.

Ava scowled. I wish you two were busy, she thought. Somewhere else.

“What’s the matter, Ava?” said Fallon. “Are you too busytotalk to us?”

“Yeah, it’s rude not to talk to us,” said Kiana.

“I know how to get her attention,” said Fallon.

She hooked the toe of her shoe under the edge of Ava’s birdbath and lifted her foot up. Water sloshed out and the stones rolled to the lower side.

“Hey!” said Ava. “Stop that!”

“She speaks!” said Fallon with a smirk.

Fallon jiggled Ava’s birdbath up and down.

“Get lost!” said Ava, jerking the saucer away from Fallon.

Fallon stared at Ava’s hair. “Did you know that your hair is the same colour as this saucer?”

“It is!” squealed Kiana. “It’s terracotta. Fuzzy terracotta!”

Ava felt her cheeks redden.

Fallon snorted with laughter. “Now your cheeks are terracotta,too.”

Fallon and Kiana high-fived each other.

Fallon leaned towards Ava. “I hate your hair,” she hissed. “It makes you look like my old piano teacher.”

Ava’s mouth fell open in surprise. “But …”

Mr Kelly ambled towards them.

“Miss Meagher brought our copies of the school newsletter,” he said.

Fallon and Kiana took their newsletters first.

Ava took hers next. “Thanks, Mr Kelly.” She flipped it open. Her eyes were drawn to a paragraph about the School Swimming Carnival.

I’m going to go in some races, she decided. They’ll stop picking on me when they see how well I can swim!

 Swimming surprises