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

Monday, 25 September 2023

Review: I'm A Frog!

From the award-winning author of Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus, comes I’m A Frog! – another Elephant and Piggie book that is chock-full of funny business, quirky characters and surprises.

We meet Piggie as he bounces about on the page, jumping like a frog and ribbiting as though his life depended on it. 

Gerald the elephant is, understandably, curious about and concerned for his friend. After all, Piggie’s a pig, not a frog. Why the bouncing and ribbiting?

The friendship between the two characters who are so very, very different, is presented through colour, fun and movement. 

Piggie’s chaotic energy is contagious. Gerald’s anxiety is crippling. Yet as readers, we love and accept them both!

Willems has done a superb job as an authorstrator (a new word I learnt this week!) and the book rollicks along with clever, witty wording, and perfect pictures. The narrative is full of giggles, innuendo and subtle facial and bodily expressions, along with delightful banter.

Told completely in speech bubbles with a wonderful repetitive use of familiar phrases, this book is the perfect companion for children who are just learning to read.

The narrative incorporates universal themes such as worry and anxiety, to then cleverly harness such ideas as friendship, optimism and pure unbridled joy as natural antidotes.

 A timely and very wonderful part of this book is that it addresses the elephants in the room (which are both Gerald the elephant and his elephant-sized anxiety) with warmth, dignity, fun and sparkle.

Title: I’m A Frog!
Author Illustrator: Mo Willems
Publisher: Walker Books, $27.99
Publication Date: 2 August 2023
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781529516081
For ages: 4 +
Type: Picture Book

Friday, 22 September 2023

Review: Aggie Flea Is NOT A Liar

Move over, Barbie - there’s a new girl rocking the pink all over town, and hers is fluoro! 

Meet Aggie Flea, whom you will immediately fall for,  because she’s inquisitive, imaginative and completely inept in most situations. Really, she’s a bit like Anne of Green Gables in that she never intends to be troublesome but somehow always ends up being so.

Aggie is ten, lives with her long-suffering mother and older teen brother, Jack, who thinks he’s the man of the house now that their dad has moved to London. 

Thursday, 21 September 2023

Review: Until the Road Ends

After years of eking out an existence on the streets, Beau is saved from death by Peggy Alford. The rescue is life-changing for both animal and human.

Mabel the cat, already a permanent resident in the Alford household, is owned by Peggy’s brother Wilf. When Beau joins the family, great discord surfaces between him and the vain, selfish, and territorial Mable.  

Enter Bomber the courier pigeon. Then there were three. It is the animals’ narrative that controls the story.

In Europe, Hitler’s war has broken out. Dogs and cats are being euthanised, food becomes scarce, and children, including Peggy and Wilf, are sent to the countryside for safety.

Mr Alford is not conscripted due to his asthma but is allocated the duty of air raid warden.

Review: Cub And Brown

Cub is a boy scout on camp - a young lad full of tips and hints for outdoor survival. He knows all about the sensible and necessary things in life like tying shoe-laces, wearing a hat and carrying a shovel. 

As with all good boy scouts, his motto is Be Prepared. And so, he is prepared for anything. Anything that is, except for meeting a bear in the woods.

Brown is a bear in the woods, who lives in a very messy (human) house, is scared of rabbits and wears shoes with laces that he can’t quite do up.

What are the chances that these two will meet – and in the woods, no less?! You guessed it correctly! About one hundred percent.

Wednesday, 20 September 2023

Review: Elegy For An Elephant

Elegy For An Elephant is, quite simply, magnificent. The words. The illustrations. All of it.

‘Those who leave live on through our living…’

We all have questions that need to be answered when someone we know dies, and quite particular questions when that death is from suicide. 

This book asks questions from a child’s perspective and answers them clearly, with a reassuring sense of strength and comfort.

Elegy For An Elephant pays homage to a family who are looking to understand their great loss. It’s powerful, beautiful, visceral and totally appropriate for children over seven years old. Supported and endorsed by child grief professionals, this book fills a vital gap in helping children to understand - and to navigate – their own grief and loss.

Review: Uh-oh! Rabbit / Yippee! Rabbit

Jo Ham has taken a deceptively simple concept, a rabbit in silhouette, and turned it into the Rabbit series of books for some of the youngest of readers.  

The first two titles are Uh-oh! Rabbit and Yippee! Rabbit. They're really appealing.

Uh-oh! Rabbit sees Rabbit exploring the concept of going up and down. Rabbit plays on a see-saw, dives into a pool, and climbs up to slide down a slippery dip. Hopefully Rabbit will be careful not to get hurt.

In Yippee! Rabbit, the Rabbit enjoys flying a kite, playing on a swing, and riding a scooter. Yippee! Doing all those things, Rabbit can pretend to be a superhero. At least until the kite gets tangled, or it rains.

Tuesday, 19 September 2023

Review: Ratbags: Take Flight

Take Flight is the fourth Ratbags adventure by Tim Harris and Shiloh Gordon, and it's holiday time! 

The rats are off to Scum Island via a long boat trip. When they get there they find a hotel and check-in experience that only rats could appreciate.

Beach games, the pool, and a nap are on the agenda, followed by a delicious dinner. The next day the rats start touring the island. 

There's lots to see, but only Jigsaw seems to have taken any notice of the falcon warnings.

Monday, 18 September 2023

Announcement: KBR's High Ranking News

Did you know ... as of September 2023 KBR is ranked #2 in the top 25 Best Australian Children's Book Blogs and Websites by Feedspot (second only to the global powerhouse of Kids' Lit, SCBWI. It's a honor we humbly attribute to our dedicated team of reviewers and contributors and of course YOU, the reader. It's a genuine privilege to be able to share our unashamedly ridiculous love of children's books with you all.

Kids' Book Review is a 100% voluntary children’s literature and book review site that supports and features authors, illustrators and publishers Australia-wide and internationally.

Founded by Australian author/illustrator, Tania McCartney in 2009, it is run by a small team of women who have decades of experience in the children's book industry, with roles such as author, publisher, editor, illustrator, bookseller, blogger, book designer, typesetter, speech pathologist, teacher, librarian, children's literature academic, psychologist, early childhood educator, IT techie, digital content creator, magazine editor and columnist, education specialist, mother and book lover.

We cover news, reviews, interviews, articles, guest posts, events, specialist literacy articles and much more, attracting readers from all over the world including teachers, librarians, industry professionals, and of course - parents and kids.

KBR consistently falls into the top 700,000 - 900,000 websites worldwide (Alexa), and has over 600 referring domains, with a PR Quality listed as 'strong'. With over 4 K Instagram followers and a social media presence that earns its place among some of Australia's best Kid Lit sites, KBR frequently ranks #1 in a Google search for 'reviews, books, kids, children's books' and was ranked no. 23 in the Top 100 Review sites worldwide in October 2016. In December 2017, KBR was honoured as the world's #1 kidlit site by Feedspot. We achieve an average of around 80,000 hits per month, with a peak of 249,395 for the month of November, 2017, and we are proud to be one of the most respected literary sites on the web. 

Review: Letters for Lunch: How to Eat the Alphabet

The award-winning Maree Coote, with her acclaimed brilliance in the use of words and the alphabet, has come up with another stunning publication.

 Using vegetables, fruit, and nutritious food in the guise of letters, she has created work of amazing beauty.

From the exquisite and clever typography to the creative and individual personifying of each letter, the text takes the prize! 

In rhyming verse, Coote serves the letter well.

Letters for Lunch: How to Eat the Alphabet

The title is an achievement in itself. 

We go into the end pages. Stunning colour is alluring. 

Saturday, 16 September 2023

Review: Who's The Gang On Our Street?

For those whose neighbourhood calm is often shattered, whose heads are occasionally clobbered with plummeting missiles, and whose picnic victuals are frequently raided, this book is for you. 

Who’s The Gang On Our Street? by Susanne Gervay and Nancy Bevington attempts to answer the conundrum of exactly who is responsible for this cacophony of cheeky chaos?

It's a joyful new picture book that explores a typical suburban cul-de-sac (I got Neighbour’s vibes but it could be a location found in any Australian city) and the gang of troublemakers that co-exist alongside a troop of neighbourhood kids.

Friday, 15 September 2023

Review: Too Many Rabbits

Rabbits reproduce quickly, as most adults know. That's the premise of this picture book.

Too Many Rabbits, written by prolific Italian author, Davide Cali and illustrated by Emanuele Benetti, is translated by Angus Yuen-Killick. 

The story begins with a simple request.

Two children want a pet rabbit. When Dad takes them to the pet store, there's a two-for-one special on, and he can't ignore a great deal. 

They leave with two rabbits. You can probably guess what happens next. 

Before long there are lots of little rabbits. The situation escalates dramatically, and soon there are simply too many rabbits!

Junior Review: Ghost Book

Ghosts, magic and mystery come to life in this graphic novel by Remy Lai.

July is an odd girl, and she isn’t really noticed by the kids at her school (and sometimes her dad, too). But there’s something special about July. She can see ghosts!

One day, July meets two ghosts called William and Floof. William tries to convince July he’s not really dead, so they go to the library and search for information about him on the computer. 

They discover that when William was a boy his heart stopped for three minutes, and now he’s in a coma. This is why he has a string connecting his ghost body to his real body in Red Hill Hospital.