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

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Review: The Perfectly Proper Grand Pet Parade

Coral Vass’ rhyme and rhythm presents a story full of activity, with its mixture of surprises, mischief, children, pets and bedlam. Illustrator Karen Sagovac, author of The Whimsical Wisdom of Phoebe, brings the story to life with her brilliant translation.

Lavender Gray is entering her miniature pup in the Grand Pet Parade at school. Everyone is taking part longing to be the winner of the Best Pet cup.

But while the children are lining up to show off their pets, mischief is brewing between Harry and Hugh. What are they planning? What secret plan is making them convulse with laughter.

Review: Burn

Patrick Ness’s latest young adult novel takes place in the 1950’s during the heart of the Cold War. 

In the first of many twists, is that this story is set in an alternate reality in which dragons exist and are accepted part of society. They have their own distinct breeds and language.

In this reality, tensions are frostier than depicted in history. There is an imminent threat as Russia (USSR) is sending a satellite into space which is regarded to be the ultimate in spying technology.

Sarah Dewhurst and her father Gareth hire Kazmir the dragon to help perform chores that help keep the family farm operational. But this dragon is not what he seems and has his own agenda. One that involves a world ending prophecy.

Malcolm is an agent, sent by the religious sect he grew up in, known as The Believers. He also his own agenda that conflicts with the mission he has been sent on. 

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Review: Ultimate Predator

Australia is home to many fascinating and beautiful animals. It’s also home to many dangerous predators.

Mammals, sea mammals, reptiles, fish, birds and minibeasts — there are deadly hunters lurking amongst all of them. Some more dangerous than others.

So, which is the most dangerous? Which is the ultimate predator?

Ultimate Predator pits the most lethal Australian animals against each other in the ultimate showdown of animal strength and cunning.

12 Curly Questions with author Katrina Nannestad

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
As a kid, I didn’t like reading books. I preferred comics because they were funny and full of action. All the books I was offered were dull and serious, and not nearly as exciting as the wild and naughty things that happened every single day in my own back yard.

2. What is your nickname?
My friends call me Kate. My sons call me Wahm – said like ‘Muuuum’ but with a ‘w’ at the start and a long, whining sound in the middle.

3. What is your greatest fear?
Getting stuck on a sheer rockface, hundreds of meters above the ground. I have nightmares about it.

4. Describe your writing style in 10 words.
Adventure, history and humour wrapped in warm, wonderful words. (Maybe that’s only nine words, but I’m a writer not a mathematician!)

Monday, 12 April 2021

Winner: Paws Giveaway

Our lucky winner is...

Naomi Wang, VIC


You have won a copy of the beautiful new novel by Kate Foster, Paws.


Thank you to ALL who entered. 

Review: Huda and Me

Huda is one of seven children of a Lebanese-Australian family. When her parents learn that her grandmother in Lebanon is very ill, they depart unexpectedly so Mum can nurse her mother.

Aunt Amel, not actually an aunt but Mum’s friend, agrees to babysit the children in their home during Mum’s absence.

But Amel is one person to Mum, and another to the children. When the parents leave, the children’s lives are turned upside -down. They are now totally controlled by Amel, who takes baby Raheed hostage, to ensure their obedience.

Each is allocated a list of excessive daily tasks, with the twins unable to go to school due to Amel’s demands for baking and cooking. They have no communication with their parents as Amel has hidden the one phone in the house.

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Video: Don't Forget

Don't Forget is a special book from two friends and creators, Jane Godwin and Anna Walker. It's about everyday things, and special things, and the things we sometimes need a reminder about. Don't Forget reminds us about the importance of family and friends, happiness, hope, dreams and imagination.

In this short video, Jane and Anna tell us about Don't Forget and about meeting, becoming friends and working together.

Title: Don't Forget
Author: Jane Godwin
Illustrator: Anna Walker
Publisher: Puffin , $ 19.99
Publication Date: March 2021
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781761040955
For ages: 5+
Type: Picture Book

Saturday, 10 April 2021

Review: Joe and the Stars

Joe lives under a wide sky filled with stars. He loves to climb trees and listen to kangaroos, and he loves gazing at the night sky.

Joe loves the stars. But then things change.

Joe and his family move to a city filled with soaring towers and lonely rooms.

He misses his old life and the wide-open spaces. He doesn’t like the new courtyard with one lonely tree. 

Friday, 9 April 2021

Review: Heroes of the Secret Underground

This is a fast-paced time-slip adventure. Louie lives with her brothers, Ted and Bert, in the Majestic hotel run by their elegant, elderly grandparents in Sydney in the year 2000.

Louie meets a ghostly girl, Naomi who guides her to an old rose gold locket, seemingly abandoned on the street. 

It's a beautiful piece, decorated with mysterious symbols, and Louie recognises it as precious, but she is accused of stealing it by the anti-Semitic Mrs Tulip.

The locket draws her and the boys to Budapest, 1944, during winter in World War 2.

The children meet Naomi in person, as well as other people whose stories they know from photographs in their grandparents' collection. 

They also meet their own grandparents as children, living in fear of the Nazis who are consolidating their hold on the hapless Jewish population.

The locket links the two time streams.

The children witness the locket getting snatched from their child-grandmother's neck by a Nazi lieutenant who has taken a fancy to it. Louie decides to risk her life by tracking the locket down and reclaiming this valuable family heirloom. 

Louie, Bert and Teddy, with the help of Naomi, face dangers and become separated in the war-torn city. But they also meet brave people who risk their lives to save those of others.

The children need to dig deep into their resourcefulness and courage in order to right one wrong, and learn about the courage and resourcefulness of those who came before them.

A child of refugees herself, the author Susanne Gervay was inspired by family history in wartime Budapest to bring this story to life. A poignant and vibrant story.

Title: Heroes of the Secret Underground
Author: Susanne Gervay
Publisher: Harper Collins, $16.99
Publication Date: 7th April, 2021
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781460758335
For ages: 9+
Type: Middle Grade Fiction

Review: The Flying Angel

Tull Suwannakit is quickly becoming one of Australia’s best illustrators of children’s books. In his latest, The Flying Angel by the talented Vicki Bennett, stylish illustrations support the emotive text. Detailed and in neutral colours, the artwork is almost photographic in its precision.

With Anzac Day approaching, many beautiful books will be circulating. This is one of them.

Thursday, 8 April 2021

Review: The True Colour of a Little White Lie

Nelson has a problem that most fourteen-year-old boys would dream about: two attractive girls who don't know each other are interested in him. 

This is a sudden change from his reality as a small-town loser where his crush firmly turned down his advances. 

Thanks to Nelson's parents scoring a job running a ski lodge every weekend over the winter, Nelson's second life in a mountain resort where nobody knows him gives him the opportunity to reinvent himself.

This is a sharp contrast to his lonely life during weekdays at school. Nelson's best friend has recently moved away and the bullies consider him a soft target. 

On the mountain, he is free to ski all day and mingle with guests in the evenings.

 Two families regularly stay at the lodge. As it happens, each visit alternate weekends, and each has an attractive daughter about Nelson's age. 

Meet The Illustrator: Ramona Davey

: Ramona Davey

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
Quite eclectic. Bright, bold, dark, decorative, cute, simple. Hopefully fun.

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
IPad pro and pen, sketchbooks, thousands of pens and pencils.

Do you have a favourite artistic medium?
Digital – because I love the undo button.