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

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Guest Post: Nova Weetman on The Secrets We Share

Nova Weetman on why she wrote The Secrets We Share

Last year my middle grade book, The Secrets We Keep was published. At the time I thought it was a standalone novel, and didn’t even consider writing a sequel. 

It was Kristina Schulz, Children’s Publisher at UQP, who first suggested it. I was surprised and didn’t at first imagine how I could continue the story.

In the first book protagonist Clem Timmins is reeling from the house fire that has destroyed her world. She has just moved into a flat with her dad and has had to start a new school. This book is all about Clem keeping secrets, and digging for the truth.

Review: Five Little Speckled Frogs

One of my all time favourite counting-down rhyming songs, Five Little Speckled Frogs, is now a board book.

This version of Five Little Speckled Frogs is different from the original rhyme. The words have been changed making it less repetitious. Each page has a different rhyme that will expand a child's vocabulary.

'Four little speckled frogs sit on their speckled logs dipping their toes into the pond. 

One springs into the air, splashing water everywhere! Then there are just three speckled frogs. Ribbit-ribbit!'

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Review: A Little Fairy Book: Kitty (book 1) and Trixy (book 2)

A cute lift-the-flap fairy door on the front cover of each of these books beckons children into a magical world of fairies. And what a sweet and whimsical world it is, brimming with sparkles and flowers and tiny creatures.

Anna Pignataro's deliciously hued and richly detailed illustrations are wonderful fodder for a little one's imagination.

In her tiny village of fairies, at the bottom of the garden, we meet Kitty and Trixy as they flit and flutter through their busy days. 

Review: Little Witch Secrets and Spells (Book 1) and Hauntings and Hexes (Book 2)

Courtney Little is a fairly average 12-year-old girl… until she discovers she’s a witch!

The Little Witch series by Australian author Aleesah Darlison is an awesome junior fiction series girls will adore. 

Filled with mystery, adventure and spells, these are fast-paced reads that are highly addictive. 

In book 1 in the series, Secrets and Spells, Courtney must spend her holidays in the small seaside town of Mixton Bay as her parents clean up and sell her deceased grandmother’s house.

At first, Courtney’s holidays look set to be the most boring in history, but then she discovers a box in the attic with her name on it and learns the grandmother she never met had many secrets.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Announcement: New Reviewer Penelope Pratley

We adore expanding our KBR family with vibrant and enthusiastic individuals who adore children's literature as much as we do.

Penelope Pratley is one such person who's life centres around creating, absorbing and sharing divine stories for children.

You may recall, we invited Penelope to share her illustrative secrets with us earlier this year. If not, here is her Meet the Illustrator interview.

Kids' Book Review is jumping-cow happy to have Penelope join our spirited little team and can't wait to share her reviews with you. Meantime, take a moment to get to know her better.

Review: The Poesy Ring

The exquisite storyteller of Home in the Rain, Sliver Buttons and A Bus Called Heaven, Bob Graham, has created a beautiful love story in his new book, The Posey Ring.

Since the Middle Ages people have given posey rings as a sign of their friendship and love. The Posey Ring story begins in County Kerry, Ireland in 1830. We meet a tearful young woman on horseback, who tosses her posey ring into a meadow.

Readers know that while romantic  love can go through stormy patches and hearts are broken, like the ship illustrated on the shore, there is always hope of finding love again. The engraved message, love never dies, on the inside of the ring illustrates this.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Review: Genuine Fraud



For anyone wanting to read a page-turning YA thriller  which will leave you second guessing throughout, this is the book for you. Best selling author E. Lockhart once again packs a punch with a tale of lies, deception, secrets and destructive friendships.

Jule and Imogen are orphans from opposite backgrounds. Jule, 18, is trying to reinvent her past and her life. She's strong, a fighter and a master of deceit. Imogen, 19, is a spoilt heiress, who lies and has a tendency to run away from life when it suits her. She tires of friends and boyfriends, can be demanding and tries to reinvent herself.

When their paths cross, both their fates are changed forever.

Review: Because of You

Tiny is a homeless girl in NSW, one amongst the many people who ‘reached for the champagne, but ended up with a fistful of broken glass.’ She carries with her a broken heart as well as a broken home. The well-educated but also homeless Zak, becomes her street dad and protector. 

Nola has broken up with her boyfriend Tom over a trust issue after he discovers she hasn’t told him about her gay parents. She is doing her HSC year, and must volunteer at a homeless shelter to get her final points.

Tiny and Nola meet at a small writing group that provides a creative avenue for the homeless at the shelter, Hope Lane. The two lives come together in an unexpected way and both are changed through their shared experiences.

Meet the Illustrator: Kerry Anne Jordinson

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
Whimsical, uncluttered and sometimes humorous.

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
Good music, family photos, a lovely view outside my window and a modicum of tidiness.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Review: The Blue Cat


Ursula Dubosarsky has a knack for sending shivers up my spine. Although The Blue Cat is ostensibly  historical fiction, there's an element of mystery or magic or perhaps a bit of both simmering under the surface of this gentle narrative.

The Second World War has begun, but it seems far away from Sydney. Then a blue cat appears on the street near Columba's house. Where did it come from? Has it survived some torturous journey in one of the military ships docked in the harbour? Or does it have special powers? Perhaps it is a guardian angel in disguise.

And what about Ellery, who does not speak? He appeared at about the same time as the blue cat. Rumour has it Ellery is a war refuge. He lives with his father, but Columba wants to know where his mother is. Could she be a victim of Hitler's war?

Review: Slowly! Slowly!

Bongani wants to go to school, but his father says he is too young and must stay home to help protect the crops.

This makes Bongani sad... until Grandfather tells him there's fun to be had catching monkeys. 

But monkeys are not so easy to catch, and Bongani must learn to be patient if he wants to succeed. 

Slowly, slowly Bongani does catch a monkey, but it doesn’t make him feel as happy as he thought it would, and the prize comes with a big decision to make. 

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Review: If Baby Could Talk

You know you're on to a good thing when the picture book you're reading elicits giggles and guffaws from the entire family.

This playful collection of rhymes is a treat for babies, siblings and parents, as it captures the thrills and spills of a new baby in the house.

Michael Wagner covers everything from first words and first steps to feet and necks with gentle wit and whimsy. 

All those hilarious memories we have of our children as babies are here. Remember the feeding of tidbits to the dog (in this book, it's a chili), ransacking the house for your keys only to discover them in the rubbish bin?