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

Monday, 6 July 2015

Review: Hide and Seek - An Around-the-World Animal Search

Kids love to seek and find (adults do, too!) and this gorgeous new book will take them on a tour of the globe, meeting animals in their natural habitat.

But it's not just the band of animals they meet, living it up in the place they know best. Each double-page spread, whether it be Emperor penguins in Antarctica or koalas in a thicket of gum trees, have a visiting animal that kids must find ... and each visiting animal is very far from home and really should not be there!

Shout Out: Juliet Nearly a Vet

Juliet is 10 years old and she's nearly a vet! How? Well, her mother's a vet so she just watches what her mum does — easy!

This is a great series for emerging independent readers. With nicely sized text, an illustration every few pages, and short chapters, each book is easy to get into and the stories have a great combination of action and character. An added bonus for animal lovers is the way animal facts are woven into the story lines, while a quick quiz at the back of the book tests whether readers have been paying attention! Books 9 and 10 have just been released.

In Outback Adventure, Juliet is going to visit her grandparents in the outback. The only problem is that her cousin Jarrod is also going to be there and he doesn't seem to like Juliet very much, or animals. Mmm, maybe Juliet can change his mind!

In Cat Show Queen, there's a cat show in town and some of the cats are boarding at Juliet's mother's vet clinic. When a cat-astrophe occurs, it's lucky that Juliet's best friend Chelsea is a world-famous animal trainer and groomer!

Title: Juliet Nearly a Vet: Outback Adventure and Juliet Nearly a Vet: Cat Show Queen
Author: Rebecca Johnson
Illustrator: Kyla May
Publisher: Puffin, $9.99 RRP
Publication Date: July 2015
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780143308713 and 9780143308720
For ages: 6+
Type: Junior Fiction

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Review: The Royal Babysitters - Babies Stink!!!

Sextuplet baby princes and their stroppy older brother, together with his giant boa constrictor, are enough of a challenge, but things spiral out of control when the neighbouring King decides to invade. With an army of robotic mermaids, a zeppelin that shoots killer hummingbirds, wasps, hornets and butterflies, Holly and Anna have their work cut out for them.

With fast-paced action, plenty of silliness and cartoon illustrations that complement the text to perfection, The Royal Babysitters is definitely middle reading fun.  However, there are more than enough challenging words to stretch the confident reader, so shared reading might be the way to go for the more tentative reader.

Review: Print and Pattern Geometric

The latest in this stunning series of books, compiled by design-lover Marie Perkins, Print and Pattern Geometric is a stunning eye-boggle of design elements featuring bold and bright geometric imagery from all around the world.

Showcasing the works of artists creating in a variety of media, each entry supplies sample artworks as well as a short biography and all-important links to their creations.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Review: Killer Instinct (The Naturals #2)

The Naturals is a group of teenagers taking part in a secret FBI crime-solving program. They are made up of: Michael, who reads facial expressions and emotions, Dean, a profiler, Sloane, a master of random statistics, Lia, a human lie detector, and Cassie, also a profiler, and the narrator. A singular childhood trauma awakened each of them to their individual gift. They don’t always get along, but are loyal to one another, the program, and the reason they have accepted the positions. At times they go beyond limits of authority, but this is due to unpredictable outcomes.

We are confronted by the chilling voice of the UNSUB, named You, throughout the story. This point of view keeps the reader in the zone and turning the pages. This is the second book in this spectacular psychological crime thriller series for young adults. It is Criminal Minds slightly modified.

12 Curly Questions with author Fleur Ferris

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
I get so scared reading horror stories I can’t read them.

2. What is your nickname?
I don’t really have one. When I was a paramedic, a colleague’s daughter called me Flo, because she thought that was my name. Her Dad thought it was funny and still calls me this, but he’s the only one.

3. What is your greatest fear?
Disclosing my greatest fear and then it coming true.

4. Describe your writing style in ten words.

5. Tell us five positive words that describes you as a writer.
Disciplined, prolific, passionate, addicted, self-doubting.

6. What book character would you be, and why?
Nim from Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr. Her life is so fun and exciting and when she grows up, she’ll be the coolest adult on the planet.

Friday, 3 July 2015

ebook Review: Miss Bobby-Socks and the Giant Ball of String

Miss Bobby-Socks’ giant ball of string isn’t where she left it. Where could it be?

Little Miss Bobby-Socks, a gorgeous grey kitten, follows the string’s trail through her home, over the couch, around the laundry tub, down the stairs, in the fridge, across the piano keys, out the door, around the mailbox and down the street in search of her giant ball of fun.

Jacqui Brown’s delightful narrative, complemented by Gail Yerrill gorgeous illustrations, makes for a beautiful story full of character, colour and fun, which children will want to read again and again.

Review: Dinoblock

Children have an inherent fascination with dinosaurs, yet, along with their tongue-twisting monikers, their facts and figures and dino Ages tend to become something of an information overload.

Not that this seems to phase them in the least.

But it's so great to see a dinosaur book for the very, very young, that can be enjoyed in a visual way, with little punches of info that make both the identification of dinosaurs, and their unique traits, a Jurassic breeze.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Review: Passport: An Activity Book

Passport is a great idea for when travelling with children. It’s quite small, roughly the same size as a real passport, and starts with a page for the passport holder to fill in their name, age and so on. But this is a “Passport of the world and all outlying territories” and is filled with different activities.

There’s a map of the world to mark where you travel, along with a list of countries to tick off places you’ve been or want to visit. A double page spread of greetings in different languages is a fun conversation starter, too.

Prompts to draw your own map and flag are included with activities related to coins (try a coin rubbing) and stamps (use the sample stamps from around the world as inspiration to design your own). There’s also information to help with plane spotting, and drawing, as well as cloud spotting (learn to recognise cumulus, altostratus and cirrus clouds and others) and time zones.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Review: Oddly

This book is...well, it's odd, which should come as no surprise once you've read the title. I like this book very much, but this isn't a book for everybody.

Oddly is about three other-worldly creatures, Strangelet, Lostlet and Oddlet. Each is considering his own existential question. When a little boy happens across the three unusual creatures, he has existential questions (and answers) of his own.

Together, the three seem to satiate their existential appetites and there is a satisfying ending. There is definitely something poetic about the word choice and content.

Review: Line Up, Please!

Sometimes a book comes along that just so delights you, you feel like you're two again. And as a sense of delight is something we should regularly pursue, what better way than via the pages of a book?

In Line Up, Please! Tomoko Ohmura has created a charming storyline around a line of queueing animals--all numbered and chattering away amongst themselves.

But what are they waiting for?

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Review: Dream, Create, Inspire

If you know a young person who wants to give their bedroom a makeover, or is perhaps just looking for a craft project, Dream, Create, Inspire is a great place to start.

Dream, Create, Inspire is a collection of fifteen projects to help create a personalised space. Each project includes a list of required materials and tools, plus instructions, hints and photos as a guide.

There’s plenty of inspiration for creative minds: make photo blocks, refurbish a wooden chair, liven up an old rug with a new look, or design felt pennant flags and display them as unique artwork featuring personal interests. I particularly liked the idea of repurposing an old picture frame to become a stationery holder.