'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Review: The Jacket

The Jacket is a debut picture book for Australian author, Sue-Ellen Pashley, with pictures created by award-winning illustrator, Thea Baker.

The story is, as the title says, about a jacket. It's one of those ones that is much-loved and comfortable. The kind you don't want to give up, even when you grow out of it, or it gets a bit too worn and torn.

This jacket starts out with Amelia, who wears it everywhere. When it no longer fits, because Amelia is getting older, the jacket gets passed on to her sister Lily.

Lily loves the jacket just as much as Amelia, and wears it everywhere.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Review: Fox & Bird

We've all seen it happen in the school playground: children testing bonds as they navigate the world of new friendships.

Here, we meet the lonely Fox who is instantly drawn to the beautiful and confident Bird. So desperate for bird's friendship, Fox will do anything Bird asks — jump, run, swim. But nothing seems good enough for Bird.

12 Curly Questions with author Katherine Battersby

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
I was an artistic roller skater for most of my youth. I loved freestyle skating the most, which involves spins and jumps and routines to music. I don’t get to skate very often anymore, but I do get to ice skate on the frozen canal in Ottawa (Canada) where I live now.

2. What is your nickname?
I love nicknames, so I have many. My partner and I are always coming up with new ones for each other (and now for our daughter, too). My current favourites: girl-a-roo, katbat and mumma-bat.

Monday, 24 June 2019

Review: The Way To Treasure Island

A beautiful story of adventure, humour and love between a father and daughter from Lizzy Stewart, author of the award-winning There’s a Tiger in the Garden.

In The Way to Treasure Island, Matilda and her dad go on an imaginative journey following a map in search of treasure. Their adventure fills with beauty, surprises and discovery; along the way, they don’t always agree and their relationship is tested. Finding the treasure isn’t as easy as they’d imagined, but something spectacular prevails.

Review: A Cat Called Trim

Trim was a cat born for adventure.  

This sentence sets up the entire story which is about the relationship shared by Matthew Flinders and the cat he saved from drowning when on the HMS Reliance in 1799. 

A powerful friendship was formed that day. Trim became Flinders’ dedicated companion on all his expeditions until he was accused of spying, and imprisoned on Isle de France. There Trim left never to be seen again.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Review: Joy

Living up to its name, Joy is a lovely, lively and rhythmic story of an energetic kitten who loves to play.

The story follows the kitten as it jumps and bounds around the house, chasing its toy and leaving a trail of care-free mess behind. The succinct, rhythmic text flows and intertwines with the illustrations wonderfully, it has such an uplifting feel that I almost found myself singing the words while my children carefully focused on the pages in anticipation.

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Review: I Went Walking

I Went Walking is a family favourite. In this story a child goes on an adventure walk around the farm yard.

On the walk he spies lots of familiar farm animals. He sees a cat, a horse, a cow and three more animals.

Each animal in the story is also given a colour description, 'I saw a pink pig...'

My son loved the repetition in this story and as a pre-reader he quickly learnt the text's pattern and read the story along with me.

Friday, 21 June 2019

Review: Everyday Resilience

Being a kid is tough. Emotions are heightened and things adults understand are no big deal often feel like the end of the world.

Friendship drama is real and taxing for kids. There are pressures at school, and sometimes at home, and kids are still learning about their strengths and weaknesses (and coming to terms with them).

As a parent, it’s hard to see your kids struggle through hard times. But what can you do?

Well, Michelle Mitchell, award-winning author, speaker and educator, thinks there’s a lot you can do, and she sets it all out in Everyday Resilience

This is a brilliant book — a must-read for all parents and carers, no matter how old their kids are. 

Review: The Tunnels Below

Sometimes I fear all the fantastical worlds that could ever be imagined have already been created in literature — that there’s nothing else, no other secret worlds left to discover between the covers of a book.

And then a novel like The Tunnels Below comes along and I can't get the smile off my face!

The Tunnels Below is a brilliant, fantastical adventure that takes readers into a new and exciting world below their feet — a unique, inventive and intriguing world filled with mystery and whimsy.

Set in London, Cecilia Hudson-Gray is heading out with her family for her twelfth birthday. But when she accidentally boards a train that takes her deep into the tunnels of the subway, she discovers a secret world like no other. 

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Review: One Tree

In Bruce Whatley’s spectacular visual narrative of One Tree written by Christopher Cheng, Whatley wanted an illustration style that reflected Chinese culture and tradition

The outcome is a stunning series of full-page linocut-look illustrations whose beauty will leave readers in awe of his talent in transforming text.

This is a significant story told in first person narrative from the point of view of a boy, perhaps taken from Christopher Chen’s own rich background. It could be anyone’s story. 

It speaks of an earlier generation when every day was lived to the fullest, when older members of the family taught their life to the younger ones through stories. 

Review: Ronan Boyle And The Bridge Of Riddles

Curses, magical creatures and law-breaking leprechauns are only the beginning for Ronan Boyle as he becomes the lowliest and youngest recruit of the secret garda. 

The Garda are the secret Irish police charged with dealing with all things magical.

Ronan is not your normal recruit –  he's gangly, socially awkward, has bad eyesight and innumerable allergies, some of which are currently unknown and cannot possibly be foreseen. 

But Ronan won’t be distracted, he is on a mission to prove his parent’s innocence. They have been unjustly imprisoned in Mountjoy Prison and Ronan wants to put the real culprit, Lord Desmond Dooley in their place.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Review: One Careless Night

Award-winning Australian author and illustrator, Christina Booth, has created a powerfully moving book about Australia's last thylacine (once known as Tasmanian tigers).

One Careless Night is a story about a thylacine mother and her pup, and provides readers with insight into how something unique and wonderful can be lost to the world, through careless decisions.

The essence of the story is hope for a different approach in the future. With haunting imagery, it reveals the tragedy of short-sighted thoughtless actions and the potential for a shared future for all living creatures.