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

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Review: The Night Box

The magic and wonder of the night is beautifully captured in this bedtime picture book that's destined to become a classic.

Poetic and enchanting, the tale introduces us to Max, a little boy with a magical key to unlock a secret box and release the night.

We feel the building anticipation of dusk as night time draws nearer.

Two eyes, two ears, two wings, wait, as Day inches like a snail, around the clock, tick-tock, tick-tock.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Review: Sam: The Most Scaredy-Cat Kid in the Whole World

Oh how I relish the first viewing of a Mo Willems title - his books are delightful, often charming, always hilarious and so deliciously odd.

Characters do not always act as expected and it is an adventure to read through each new offering that Mo presents, and repeat readings are always must - he is the top of my recommendations list when patrons ask for my assistance at the library.

In this sequel to Leonardo the Terrible Monster (KBR Review here), we learn a bit more about Leonardo's friend Sam who as the title suggests, is the most scaredy-cat kid in the whole world. Sam is scared of absolutely everything, well everything except for Leonardo of course, because Leonardo and Sam are very good friends.

Review: Too Many Elephants In This House

Eric loves elephants, especially the ones that crowd his house. But his mother decides they have to go.

Join Eric in this adorable romp around his home where there's an elephant up to something at every turn.

Do you know how many elephants are actually in Eric's house? Can you tell them apart? Get ready for a barrel of counting fun as well as a giggle or two.

Can Eric solve his family's overcrowding problem without giving up a single elephant?

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

10 Quirky Questions with Demet Divaroren

1. What's your hidden talent?
I can shimmy and shake my body like a belly dancer.

2. Who is your favourite literary villain and why?
Arghhh, I hate villains. I want to stab them! Especially Dolores Umbridge from the Harry Potter series.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Review: Star Wars: The Last Jedi: The Visual Dictionary

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the latest in the Star Wars movie franchise, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi: The Visual Dictionary is the perfect accompanying book for young fans.

True to the excellent Dorling Kindersley style, Star Wars: The Last Jedi: The Visual Dictionary has lots of photos, diagrams and explanatory information.

Wanna-be Resistance pilots will be able to delve into the fleet starships including the Raddus, Ninka, Vigil and Anodyne. And learn all about the starfighter uniforms and equipment.

It's also important to understand the opposition, so there are also pages dedicated to the First Order ships and key characters.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Review: This Zoo is Not For You

In the book This Zoo is Not For You we meet a scarf wearing, stylish platypus who has driven his bus to hand deliver an invitation to the zoo animals. The tiger at the front gate wrongly assumes that he is there to be interviewed to join the zoo.

One could only assume that a platypus, which is a unique animal from Australia, would pass the interview process easily. Surprisingly this is not the case.

As the platypus meets each interviewer he is rejected and told that 'I think, this zoo, is not for you.'

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Review: David Astle's Gargantuan Book of Words

I must admit I’m a bit of a word nerd. I love words and their origins, and this fantastic activity book engages kids in thinking about where words come from. It’s full of funny, clever and engaging quizzes, puzzles and anecdotes that will get kids thinking and laughing and learning without even realising it.

Speaking of word origins, did you know that around 500 years ago there lived a giant baby named Gargantua who was so big that his pram was a horse bigger than six elephants. And when he needed to wee, the yellow ocean drowned the people of Paris. Thanks to this super story we have the word gargantuan in the dictionary and the name of this book.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Review: Big Fella Rain

Every page of this picture book is a work of art I'd dearly love to hang on the wall. 

From the lyrical text to the exquisite illustrations, Big Fella Rain is a triumph of simplicity and beauty.

It's about the summer rains and the magical transformation of Australia's Top End as everything comes to life when "the mighty storms come".

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Meet the Illustrator: Christopher Nielsen

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
Textured and colourful with a nod to vintage children’s books.

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
Music, dog, coffee cup.

Do you have a favourite artistic medium?
I use a mix of acrylics, stencils, rollers, brushes and pencils and then
put it all together in Photoshop using my Wacom tablet.

Name three artists whose work inspires you.
Marc Boutavant, Jon Klassen and Miroslav Sasek.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Review: Little Fox Find Your Way Home

If you’re looking for an interactive board book for your very little one, Little Fox Find Your Way Home is the book you’re looking for.

It’s a concept book rather than a story, with a different forest creature on every page, lost and trying to find their way home.

But in the centre of the book is a sturdy plastic covered maze with a little silver ball trapped inside. 

As the kids explore the pages, they need to move the book around so the ball travels around the maze and gets each animal to where they want to go. 

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Review: A Garden of Lilies: Improving Tales for Young Minds

From the world of Stella Montgomery whom many may have met in Withering-by-the-Sea, comes A Garden of Lilies, the book that Stella’s aunts gave her to read in Wormwood Mire. It is not part of the Intrigue series but a stand-alone book on etiquette, manners and decorum; imperative learning material for children of the Victorian era.

Its handbook style covers virtues and vices, moral behaviour, and misbehaviours and their consequences. The lessons are disguised as stories reinforced with a dramatic, abrupt and unbelievable ending.

Using extraordinary examples of bad outcomes due to disobedience and lack of good manners was in fact the way children were taught in the 1800s. I loved the names of the characters and the language used, and found myself easily visualizing those times, habits and customs due to the excellent prose.

12 Curly Questions with author Claire Christian

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
I LOVE action movies. The daggier the better. I’m all about big explosions, car chases, epic stunts, bad dialogue – they make me unreasonably happy.

2. What is your nickname? 
Pearl. I’ve had the nickname since I was about five or six. My brother and I started calling each ‘Roy’ and ‘Pearl’ as a riff on ‘boy’ and ‘girl’. I wish I knew the story behind it, because it’s stuck for so long. My brother and I both have Roy and Pearl tattoos and my Mum called her two dogs Roy and Pearl as an ode to her kids who had left the nest. 'Claire and Pearl' is the name of my blog and social media handles now, too.