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

Monday, 23 July 2018

July Young Adult Fiction New Releases

Here's a selection of some wonderful, heartwarming, action-packed and page-turning new YA fiction out in July to get you through the chilly weather ... stay warm!

The Art of Taxidermy by Sharon Kernot, $19.99, Text Publishing Co, 9781925603743

Video: How to draw Willy Wonka with Quentin Blake

Quentin Blake has one of the most recognisable artistic styles, and in this video he shares how to draw Willy Wonka, as he did for Roald Dahl's book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Title: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 
Author: Roald Dahl
Illustrator: Quentin Blake
Publisher: Penguin Books
For ages: 8+
Type: Junior fiction

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Review: The Pyramid Puzzle Starring Olive Black

Olive Black, child actress extraordinaire, is preparing for her next blockbuster movie. Her role this time is that of an archaeologist. She is thrilled when plans are made to film in Egypt. But there are still lessons and school work to be completed.

Replacement teacher Harriet arrives at Olive’s school for a term. This sends Miss Loople, Olive’s favourite teacher into a tizz. Always one for drama, Olive immediately becomes suspicious.

Nathan is a mystery. Why does he steal Olive’s presentation ideas? To top it off, he suggests the students put on an event for the whole school for a day, and names it Egypt Alive. A go ahead is voted.

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Review: Lunch on a Pirate Ship

Lunch on a Pirate Ship is a story of a great adventure about a little boy named Jack, who is unhappy with his lunch of cold chips and crunchy beans, so he goes in search of something better.

We join Jack in his playful imagination as he sails through a thousand waves, meeting pirates and a giant along the way. Will pickled crabs and rotten fish take Jack’s fancy? Yuck! What about some cold green slime?

Things are looking grim in the food department when Jack stumbles upon a fabulous looking feast, but is it really what it seems? After much adventure, it’s time for tea and Jack realises exactly where the best cooking comes from after all.

Review: The Old Man

The Old Man by Sarah V and Claude K Dubois is a moving story that will invoke discussions about compassion and justice.

A town wakes to a new morning. A little girl goes to school while an old man walks along the city street, trying to warm up after a freezing night. He's really hungry and tired. The old man finds a spot in the park to sleep and people pass him by, not noticing him.

Friday, 20 July 2018

Review: 199 Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals

How many dinosaurs have you heard of? How many could you name? This book is a kind of pictorial dictionary of 199 of them!

199 Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals has a sturdy hard cover, thick board pages, and is a comfortable size for small hands -- the kind that belong to little dinosaur lovers.

The animals are divided into categories like powerful predators and huge herbivores. Each category has a page full of labelled, colourful dinosaur pictures.

Learn the names of all the dinosaurs with horns or spikes (there are 23 of them listed). Discover ice age animals like the Shaggy Musk Ox, Ground Sloth, and the Smilodon. Test yourself and see if you know which dinosaurs get around on two legs, or which ones are small and speedy.

Prehistoric animals that lived under the sea are included, as are those that lived in swamps, or spent much of their time in the air.

Look What I'm Reading! Leanne Barrett

Leanne Barrett is a writer and aspiring illustrator. She has worked as an educator for children and adults, promoting her love of art and children’s literature. 

Leanne’s first joint illustration exhibition was held last year. She is currently working on a series of illustrations featuring chickens that like to do adventurous thrill seeking activities.
Which children’s book are you currently reading?
The Old Man by Sarah V. and Claude K. Dubois, translated into English by Daniel Hahn.

Can you tell us in two sentences what the book is about?
The story follows the day of a man who sleeps on the street; he is a tired, cold and hungry man, who is ignored by many people. When the old man receives an unexpected gift from a small child he discovers hope in his heart.   

Thursday, 19 July 2018

12 Curly Questions with author Eleni Hale

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you. 
I have boxes and boxes of diaries. This includes books, scraps of paper, backs of envelops anything I can get my hands on at the time. They begin when I was 10 or 11 years old and every so often I add more.

2. What is your nickname? 
As a teen I was called Birdy.

3. What is your greatest fear? 
Currently it’s webs spun across footpaths. Breaking one with my face and having a fat spider crawling on me has happened way too many times. I go nuts. Others laugh. It’s awful.

4. Describe your writing style in 10 words. 
Action-packed, gritty, so-very-risky, authentic, punchy, character-driven.

Review: Betty and The Yeti

Betty is young adventurer who likes to go out in the snow and collect items on her little red sled.
One day Betty finds some hairy, smelly clothes out in the snow and wonders who could they belong to? 

She sets off to find out and on her way, she meets local animals like a polar bear, a whale and an arctic hare. 

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Review: The Buried Ark

In the sequel to The Silent Invasion, the story picks up from the cliffhanger ending after Callie runs into the father she thought was dead. Grieving the absence of her beloved little sister Gracie and Matt, Callie has no choice but to follow her changed father deep into the Zone.

She senses her father's not the same person he was but has no other choice; she must trust him. Callie doesn’t know if Gracie is dead; she’s broken, exhausted and has no one else left. 

Throughout the trek back to her father’s base, she hears whispers and senses she may be part of the change but fights against it. When her father reveals that she has the genetic power to stop the change, they come after her.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Review: Baby's First Bank Heist

In Baby’s First Bank Heist, Baby Frank loves animals and he really, really wants a pet although his parents are not so keen.

So what’s a baby to do? Baby Frank knows! He perfectly plans and plays out an impressive and unlikely bank robbery. Frank’s not a naughty baby, it’s just that he needs the cash to buy a pet for himself. After his seamless and successful robbery he proceeds with more improbable events for a crawling baby such as a little internet shopping and some significant animal harbouring.

12 Curly Questions with author Heather Gallagher

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
I suffer gluten-intolerance (okay, many people know that). What they don’t know is that I regularly indulge in things I shouldn’t eat. This has inspired my latest book (that I’m hoping to find a publisher for) The Queen of Farts.

2. What is your nickname? 
A lot of people call me Heath. My husband sometimes calls me HB – short for Heather-bear.

3. What is your greatest fear? 
Sharks – not good for someone who lives by the beach.

4. Describe your writing style in 10 words. 
Funny, pacey, authentic, from-the-heart and off the wall.