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

Friday, 29 July 2016

Review: Who's Next? Guess Who!

First came the elephant with his friend, the lovely ladybird. But who came next? And who left?

Who’s Next? Guess Who! is a gorgeous interactive picture book for toddlers complete with over 30 cute and quirky creatures of all shapes and sizes, who come and go.

Encouraging littlies to pay close attention and look carefully as they interact with each page, Who’s Next? Guess Who! asks the questions - who came and who left?

Review: The Other Christy

Christy Ung moved to Australia with her grandfather when she was in Year 4. Her life in Cambodia before then was filled with love, but she also experienced the death of her mother, and life certainly wasn't easy. Since living in Australia, she's learnt English and is doing well at school, but she hasn't really made any friends and is known as a loner.

Basically, she's the exact opposite of Christie Owens. Popular, vivacious, the sun around whom everyone revolves in 'Other Christy's' class, Christie really really irritates Christy!

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Review: Charlie's Adventures in Hawaii

Two of my favourite things in the world are children’s picture books and holidays in Hawaii, so I was utterly delighted to read Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern’s new children’s book, Charlie’s Adventures in Hawaii.

When Charlie and his family visit friends, Kai and Amoka, in Oahu Hawaii, young Charlie and Kai set off together to locate the clues that lead them to uncover the Aloha spirit.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Review: The New Friend and The Crazy Friend (Ginger Green series)


Self-proclaimed playdate queen, Ginger Green is adorable in her enthusiasm and her foxy outfits but she has a lot to learn. In the Ginger Green series, we journey with Ginger through her pre-playdate excitement and nervousness, face the unexpected pitfalls that come with welcoming strangers into her home and arrive relieved each time another tumultuous playdate ends as a success.

Not only does Kim Kane nail the voice of an early school years playdate hostess, she keeps the pages turning with gentle suspense and minor disasters in The New Friend. How do you get rid of well-meaning parents when they hover? How do you work out what a shy friend would like to do? What will it take to break the ice and let the fun begin?

Review: Dragonfly Song

Aissa is the first-born daughter of the Lady. Destined to rule, if only she wasn't deformed by two extra thumbs dangling from her wrists, it seems that now her fate is immediate death.

No-Name is the despised, cursed child who lives in the shelter of a rock near the Lady's Sanctuary. An outcast mute who has to scavenge for food scraps and flee from those who would beat her, she is loved only by the Lady's cat.

But Aissa and No-Name are one and the same. The kindness of an old wise-woman has seen Aissa defy her fate and now there's a chance that she might live out her destiny. First, however, she will have to reclaim her identity, regain her name and her voice.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Review: Mrs Dog

Mrs Dog discovers that growing old generates a feeling of uselessness. She can no longer chase sheep, so she follows Tall-One, the farmer, around all day to pass the time. While in the paddock, she comes across a tiny lamb left to die. Mrs Dog finds a new meaning to her life as she nurses and nurtures the weak lamb back to life. She names it Baa-rah and tries to teach it how to bark, to no avail.

Mrs Dog’s maternal and protective instinct kicks in. She makes Baa-rah aware of the dangers of the outside world, especially the Dangerous Place, where the Beaky-Wings gather and attack. The bond between the two animals grows stronger daily.

When the tables are turned, Baa-rah is ready to return the lifesaving favour when Mrs Dog becomes a victim of the Beaky-Wings.

12 Curly Questions with George Ivanoff

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you. 
I love Brussels sprouts. I hate bananas.

2. What is your nickname?  
I don’t have one, but I will respond to ‘Hey you!’

3. What is your greatest fear?
Being stranded on a desert island with nothing but bananas to eat.

4. Describe your writing style in ten words.
It’s all over the place and a bit random. Hi!

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer. 
Tenacious. Determined. Fun. Random. Squirrel.

6. What book character would you be, and why?
Marvin K Mooney from Dr Seuss’s Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!, because I am just as stubborn as he is.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Review: Big Trouble (Friday Barnes #3)

Friday’s parents are brilliant scientists but their life skills are lacking. Friday’s father panics when he can’t find his wife. The police see the chaotic state of the Barnes home and conclude she has been abducted. You get the idea.

Friday’s life is closer to normal when she is at boarding school. The last thing she wants to do is go home to look after her dad. When the Headmaster agrees to employ Professor Barnes as a short-term teacher, Friday hopes that life will continue as normal.

Review: First Words Art Charts

Large format and crammed with colour, this beautiful book for littlies is like a collection of posters secured together in a book that will widen eyes and expand spongelike brains.

Beginning with Woodland, where we meet all manner of foresty creatures, from bears to ants, woodpeckers to racoons, we move on through Counting, Transport, Sea Creatures, Pets, Shapes, Opposites, Colours and much more.

Graphic-style illustrations are present in pop-art style block colour, with accompanying word, and then at the end of the book, a series of colour-coded questions relate to the imagery at the front of the book.

Tania's Picks: Beautiful Picture Books, July 2016

Will it ever end? I hope not. This picture book obsession of mine doesn't show any sign of slowing up, and I'm delighted to share with you some recent book purchases--many of which I find in local stores and some online. Many of these, I've been coveting for some time, and others are surprise finds.

Do seek them out. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Beautiful Birds by J Roussen and E Walker, Flying Eye Books, $29,99, age 2+ (The orange spine and title on the real-life colour is fluorescent.)

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Review: On the River

Roland Harvey is well known for his distinctly Australian books and artworks. On the River is no exception, as it takes readers on a journey from the headwaters of the Murray River to its mouth, over 2500 kilometres away.

This is a picture book for the whole family. The youngest readers will eagerly seek out Roland and his pelican friend in a 'Where's Wally?'-style hunt on each spread.

Slightly older kids will enjoy the fantastically detailed illustrations, the many fascinating facts, and the quirky humour that's evident on every page. (We all know about the Man from Snowy River, but what about the Gran from Snowy River? Nope, didn't think you'd heard of her!)

Saturday, 23 July 2016

10 Quirky Questions with Zana Fraillon

1. What's your hidden talent?
Close up magic. I love doing magic tricks and used to be a close-up magician (it feels like a long time ago now…), but I still get a little thrill every time I hold a deck of cards.

2. Who is your favourite literary villain and why?
The Grinch. What a guy. He steals Christmas! That shows real effort and initiative. And like all good villains, we come to realise that he probably isn’t such a bad guy after all.

3. You're hosting a literary dinner party, which five authors would you invite? (alive or dead)
Ooooh. Roddy Doyle, Astrid Lindgren, Roald Dahl, Siobhan Dowd, and Fredrik Backman. But there are so many more I would want to invite! And a dinner party isn’t really a dinner party with only 6, is it?

4. Which literary invention do you wish was real?
The bed knob from The Magic Bed Knob by Mary Norton (the story which the Disney film Bedknobs and Broomsticks was later based on). As a kid, I always used to test out any bed knobs I came across. Truth be told, I still do…