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

Friday, 27 May 2016

Review: Mad Magpie

Guluu the magpie can’t help but feel mad. The butcher birds pick on him and bully him at every opportunity. The elder birds offer him advice to help him stay calm, but it is hard to ignore the hurtful words and actions of the butcher birds.

Eventually, Guluu discovers a way to find focus and calm even when the butcher birds are being mean. He finds strength in his own song, and inspires others to do the same, helping to create a more positive and supportive community for everyone.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Review: The Ricker Racker Club

Max and Ollie, brothers and founders of the Ricker Racker Club, have their own secret handshake. They even have their own secret password. And a turtle named Albert.

Only boys are allowed in the Ricker Racker Club--an institution that demands either feats of bravery or the doing of something nice. To be fair, the boys do introduce a Girls' Tuesday for the club, something Poppy wholeheartedly takes advantage of.

As the weeks go by, the boys set about performing major feats of stunning bravery, while Poppy tends to focus on kindness. Giving the boys her jelly and ice cream. Cleaning their bedroom for them. Eating all their vegetables for an entire month.

When Albert the turtle finds himself in a compromising situation with the Sleeping Wolf next door, the boys try their fabulous feats of derring-do, but it's Poppy who saves Albert ...

I wonder if you can guess how?

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

National Simultaneous Storytime 2016

It’s National Simultaneous Storytime!

Today is the 16th annual National Simultaneous Storytime, a fantastic countrywide event aiming to promote reading and literacy by encouraging schools, preschools, libraries, families and communities to host events that create fun reading experiences for children.

At 11am this morning (AEST) around the country children will be having a wonderful time enjoying the feature story for National Simultaneous Storytime this year, the hilarious I Got This Hat by Jol and Kate Temple, illustrated by Jon Foye.

It’s not too late to get involved. Check out the events calendar for your local library to see if they are hosting an event, or visit the Australian Library and Information Association website for information about National Simultaneous Storytime 2016 including links to video readings of I Got This Hat.

We can’t wait to sit down at 11am and join a whole nation of parents, carers, librarians and teachers encouraging our youngest generation to develop a love of stories and reading.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Review: Did you take the B from my _ook?

Beck and Matt are _ack! Thank goodness! I was losing my insanity and was desperate to be driven crazy once again. So relieved. And it's all thanks to Did you take the B from my _book?

The (absolutely craaaazeeee) narrator of this _ook has lots of favourite things. They all _egin with the letter B. Bats. Beaches. Bread. Bushes. Bulldozers.

But uh-oh. The narrator seems to be getting a cold. ACHOOO!

Okay, where were we? Oh yes, we were listening to the narrator list their favourite things, starting with the letter B.

Here we go...

Monday, 23 May 2016

Review: Are You Sitting Comfortably?

Yay! Another Leigh Hodgkinson book! I so love it when she decides to produce more. Thank you, Leigh.

In Are You Sitting Comfortably? (love the title), we meet a young lad who just wants to sit and read a book (hallelujah!). But the issue is that he can't find anywhere to sit that's not too fuzzy, dim, buzzy, stinky, grimy or even slimy. Just a quiet, comfortable place to sit is all he needs. Not too hot and not too cold would also be fantastic.

Do you think he can find it? Things are not looking too good. Until he has a tiny revelation with a large impact (as is often the way).

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Review: Baby Pip Eats

Food technologist, food stylist/recipe writer and mum to baby Pip, Amie Harper has combined a warmly-curated selection of book elements in this small-format title, Baby Pip Eats--a book that can appeal to little ones as much as it does to adults.

Inspired to prepare delicious and high-nutrition foods with a simplified palate for her baby girl, Amie has used an alphabet format for a collection of recipes--from Avocado to Zucchini, and a gastronomic tasting plate in between.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

12 Curly Questions with Kate and Jol Temple

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
Jol: My favourite animal is the baboon
Kate: I own Clint Eastwood’s ex-girlfriend’s hat. Really.

2. What is your nickname?
Jol: Jol. It’s short for Jolyon.
Kate: Kate Temple.

3. What is your greatest fear?
Jol: Squirrels
Kate: Gummi Bears – They. Are. Creepy.

4. Describe your writing style in ten words.
Off beat and often rhymey – if we have the timey

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.

6. What book character would you be, and why?
Jol:  Toad of Toad Hall – I’d like to drive vintage cars in a jaunty suit.
Kate: Mike from Mike I Don’t Like  - He has no filter and I’m quite partial to a good rant.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Review: Ned Kelly's Helmet

If you’re looking for a fun way to get children interested in history, Paul Stafford has the answer. His experience as a literary consultant ‘specialising in reluctant male readers’ has given him tools to explore and re-form history lessons in a unique way. 

This title is a standout. Its clever prose sizzles on the page. The highly imaginative storyline, and the combination of historical characters and their stories, kept me turning pages, laughing out loud and impressed with what I was reading.

The story starts with a history lesson and role play, based on The Great Roman Slave Auction. Robbie is sold as a slave for a day to old Mrs Fezzle for $500. The money is to go towards the building of a basketball court for their underfunded school.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Meet the Illustrator: Aura Parker

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
Joyful and heartwarming, brimming with details for children to explore.

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
My creative space is cosy, cluttered with books and there’s usually loud music.I’m surrounded by an abundance of art supplies, several projects on the go and snippets of fabric for colour inspiration, recently I’ve been making little paper-cut sculptures too.

Do you have a favourite artistic medium?
Coloured pencils would be my number one at the moment. I’m infatuated with them. I love traditional art materials for the feel and texture of hand drawn lines and there’s nothing like the way paint looks on watercolour paper, but I also enjoy the flexibility of working digitally with colour on my computer. My illustrations are a real mixture of traditional and computer techniques.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Review: Clap, Clap!

Vibrant colour, super cool illustrations and onomatopoeia? What more could a toddler possibly need?

Doing! go the cymbals. Mwah! Mwah! go the smoochers. Fomfim goes the accordion. Fzzzzzzz goes the toasted sandwich.

With each double page spread alive with striking imagery, animals, instruments and the sounds of everyday life--at home and in nature--Clap, Clap! is a glorious celebration of sound and energy.

Children from baby to toddler will be mesmerised by the dynamic illustrations, and the opportunity for vibrant, active reading by older siblings or adults, is truly wonderful.

Title: Clap, Clap!
Author/Illustrator: Madalena Matoso
Publisher: Flying Eye, $29.99
Publication Date: 1 May 2016
Format: Hard cover
ISBN: 9781909263826
For ages: 0 - 3
Type: Picture Book

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

12 Curly Questions with Maura Finn

1.Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you. 
I have an uncanny ability to communicate with cats.

2. What is your nickname? 
Mofra, Mausie, Mrs Clafouti, - I always wanted a decent nickname but none really stuck.

3. What is your greatest fear?
Well, I’ll save you from the burden of my darkest fears, but I am certainly a scaredy-cat around things that go ‘BANG’- bursting balloons, popping champagne corks. My poor heart’s racing at the very thought.

4. Describe your writing style in ten words.
A wee bit old fashioned, but in a nice way.

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer. 
Determined, delighted, nostalgic, grateful, time-poor…

Monday, 16 May 2016

Review: Please, Louise

Books inform a child’s world. They remove fear and sadness, and open children’s eyes to the reality of their imaginings. They teach and entertain, and show both sides of a picture.

This is what the timid Louise learns one wet day, when she ventures into a library. She discovers new worlds in a variety of books and fairytales. Each cover opens to reveal something unknown. She exits taking with her new found views on what is real, and what can be learnt and discovered within the pages of a book.