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

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Review: Ladder to the Moon

Here is a picture book that will send shivers down your spine with its eloquent beauty. Written by the half-sister of Barack Obama and inspired by the love and spirit of their mother, it evokes an ethereal and everlasting love that binds us all.

Little Suhaila asks her mama what her Grandma Annie was like. 'She was like the moon' her mother replied, 'full, soft and curious…'.

Meet the Illustrator: Penelope Pratley

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less. 
Delicate images created to capture the heart of small things.

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
I need fresh air, lots of light, art supplies (loads of lead pencils, paper, Schminck watercolours and good quality brushes), books (lots of books; story books, reference books, picture books), music, and being by myself. 

Do you have a favourite artistic medium?

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Review: 10 Reasons to Love a Turtle and 10 Reasons to Love an Elephant

When you think about animals and what you know about them, you could probably make a list of facts.

Things like whether they have two legs or four, feathers or scales, or if they can fly or run really fast.

These two books are from London's Natural History Museum, and each share facts about an animal that make them extra special, perhaps even unique.

There are 10 Reasons to Love a Turtle and 10 Reasons to Love an Elephant.

Did you know, for example, that a sea turtle cries real tears? Or that elephants walk on tip toes?

Review: If I Stay

Every now and then you read a book, turn the last page and just ... sigh. At the beauty and power of words on a page and the feeling they elicit. I've been meaning to read this book for a while, and wish I had.

If I Stay tells the story of 17 year-old Mia, an accomplished cellist in her final year, who has a cool and loving family and Adam, a boy she loves. The hardest decision she may have to make is about her college destination which probably won't align with Adam's.

Mia is mature and grounded and besides the fact she's uber talented, is a pretty normal teenager. But then tragedy strikes in the most heart wrenching way possible and Mia is in intensive care fighting for her life.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Review: My Dog Mouse

It’s true when they say the simple things in life are often the best. 

Here it is a dog walk. A little girl takes an old dog, who doesn’t belong to her, for a walk around the block.

12 Curly Questions with author Nicole Hayes

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
The whole time I was playing AFL footy as a girl, which I wrote about in The Whole of My World, I was also studying classical ballet. I loved both for a while, but then I got really embarrassed about doing ballet and quit right as I was learning to go en pointe, which we were all dying to do!

Monday, 24 July 2017

Review: Gemina

If you enjoyed Illuminae, you're going to love Gemina. With the same alternative formatting that includes diary entries, artwork, text that traverses the page as if it was a person crawling through the vents...you get the idea.

Hannah, the Heimdall space station captain's daughter, has spent her life playing military strategy games with her dad. Little did either of them realise how crucial those games would be to her survival and maybe even to the survival of the entire universe.

People might say Gemina, like Illuminae, is a love story but to me, both are a rip-snorting Sci Fi thrillers that would not let me put them down.

In Gemina there's a love triangle, I admit, but there are also bad guys from Beitech trying to mop up potential witnesses left behind at the end of Illuminae, disgusting soul-sucking creatures and hyper-dimensional obstacles. There are also heartbreaking scenes, unexpected deaths and a twist or three.

Weighing in at 659 pages, this tome is best read while seated, which is a shame, because it's the perfect bedtime escape material. No matter which position you take, make sure you're nice and comfortable, because there's a chance you won't be moving far as the pages fly.

Title: Gemina
Authors: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Illustrator: Marie Lu
Publisher: Allen & Unwin, $22.99
Publication Date: 26 October 2016
Format: Paperback
ISBN: b9781925266573
For ages: 14 years +
Type: Young Adult Sci Fi

Guest Post: Giorgio Cassella with Five Alternative Children's Books Encouraging Diversity

Take a look at your kids’ bookshelf (or Kindle if you’re so inclined). How wide is the diversity of publications on there?

Introducing children to a wide variety of books is a powerful way of educating them about the wider world, and enhancing their understanding, emotional intelligence and empathy for those they’ll meet throughout their life’s journey.

Below, I’ve listed five books I highly recommend all parents to introduce to their children which provide entertaining, but challenging, reading opportunities. These expertly crafted stories tackle difficult questions around gender, race, nationality, disability and empowerment, introducing and informing children about real-world themes.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Review: Never Say Die

Alex Rider is back in another adrenalin-fuelled adventure.

This is the eleventh story in the series featuring the teenage spy, written by Anthony Horowitz.

You should be aware that if you haven't read Scorpia Rising, then you will run headlong into big spoilers in Never Say Die, and there's no way to avoid them.

At the end of Scorpia Rising, Alex was left broken by his experiences. There's really only one person who could pull him back into the world he had been trying to leave behind.

Someone who Alex believes to be that person makes themself known to him by email early on, which spurs him onto a journey, but to tell you who it is would spoil the story.

The action takes place in the United States, Britain, France and Egypt. And it really is action. Anthony Horowitz writes in a visual and fast-paced style. It's like you're watching events play out on screen, which should be no real surprise given he is also an accomplished screenwriter.

Review: Eric Finds a Way

Eric loves books and the magical worlds he reads about, but he wishes he could find a way to hang out in these wonderful worlds.

He tries to draw his own pictures. He tries to write his own stories.

But they never quite work out the way he wants them to. 

So Eric finds his own way to live in his fantasy worlds. And his idea is kind of genius.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Review: Dr First

Do Mr. Men and Little Miss books have a special place in your heart?

When I spot a new one, I have a burning need to know what is inside the cover. So when I found the mash-up of Doctor Who meets Mr. Men books, I did a little happy dance.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Review: Bruno: Some of the More Interesting Days of My Life So Far

Bruno is a cat that wears a blue checkered hat. The ‘more interesting days of his life so far’ are presented in six linked stories using animal characters. 

Beautifully illustrated, the tales are filled with humour and are more than a bit bizarre. It’s a book that will definitely entertain.