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

Friday, 21 September 2018

Review: Plantopedia

Plantopedia is an extraordinary encyclopaedia of plants. I can’t speak too highly of this publication. 

It’s visually stunning, textually detailed, and overall a mine full of gems of information for all ages. 

Readers will be astonished by the names of the plants, which is one of the most interesting aspects of this incredible plant collection. There are maps to be found in the Homebodies section on plants that grow in one place.

Each plant has been set out under headings that are humorous and entertaining, such as the indoor plants which clean the air - the Air Fresheners. The Aquatics are plants that live in water such as Water Mint, Watercress, the Western Marsh Orchid, and the toxic Bog Arum. The Healers are plants that heal - naturally.

Review: Silver People A Tale From the Panama Canal

The world celebrated a monumental achievement at the opening of the Panama Canal in 1913 when part of the Amazon forest was flooded to make way for human commercial endeavours.

At that time and since, there's been no mention of the apartheid conditions workers were forced to accept.

There was no mention of the Cuban, Jamaican and many Latin American groups who worked as virtual slaves during construction, and there was certainly no acknowledgement of the many displaced species affected.

Margarita Engle gives the forgotten and the repressed their voices in the Silver People by inserting poetic snippets that encapsulate the characteristics of those who sometimes speak without words.

Margarita covers everyone and everything from trees, snakes and Howler monkeys to the local forest dwellers and the Jamaican, Cuban and 'almost white' groups who worked for silver while their white counterparts reaped gold.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

September Young Adult Fiction New Releases

With spring finally here, grab a book and head outdoors. Spoilt for choice, here's a selection of YA Fiction September new releases:

The Girl Who Fell: Book 1, The Chess Raven Chronicles by Violet Grace, $19.99, Black Inc, 9781760640248

Meet the Illustrator: Prue Pittock

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
Naive with a subtle sense of humour.

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
I like to have something to listen to - usually the radio is playing in the background. All the tools I need are just an arm's length away.

Do you have a favourite artistic medium?
I like working with ink and watercolour, but just recently I have used gouache and pencils.

Name three artists whose work inspires you.
I love E.H Shepard, Margaret Bloy Graham, and Shaun Tan.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Review: Fox in the Night

This is a unique picture book with a dual narrative designed to teach kids about light and dark, whilst engaging them in a story.

Fox wakes up hungry and needs to leave her dark den to find food. She peeps outside but it is too bright to go out, so she waits until it is darker before venturing into the city to find food. 

Through her journey, fox navigates through moonlight, avoids the bright headlights of cars, explores fire and runs from the humans with their torches.

Video: Cicada

Cicada is the latest book from the extraordinarily talented Shaun Tan. It's a multi-layered story for "anyone who has ever felt unappreciated, overlooked or overworked".

Title: Cicada
Author: Shaun Tan
Illustrator: Shaun Tan
Publisher: Hachette, $26.99
Publication Date: June 2018
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9780734418630
For ages: 6+
Type: Picture book

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Guest Post: Laura Taylor Celebrating World Kid Lit Month

10 More Fabulous Reads from Around the World

How are you celebrating World Kid Lit Month?

September is a month-long feast of diverse, global and translated children’s literature. Twitter is abuzz with reviews, recommendations, news and stories (see #worldkidlit and #worldkidlitmonth for more), and there are some great posts on the World Kid Lit blog too.

To mark the month, I’ve selected ten more of my favourite picture book titles from around the world to share with you. Some are funny, some sad, some quirky, some serious. Together, they show the rich variety of books we can all enjoy by exploring titles first published in another country and/or another language.

12 Curly Questions with author Katie Poli

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you 
I wouldn’t say ‘hardly’, but it is a lesser-known fact that I met my hubby Latin-American dancing. Ironically, neither of us are Latin-American!

2. What is your nickname? 
Katie is actually my nickname as my full name is Kathryn. However, I’ve only ever been called Kathryn when I was in trouble!

Monday, 17 September 2018

Review: Sophie Johnson: Unicorn Expert

Sophie Johnson: Unicorn Expert is a wonderful and amusing story of a day in the life of Sophie, a self-proclaimed unicorn expert with a creative imagination. Sophie and her 17 unicorns made me smile profusely and laugh out loud. I loved this book!

Written in the first person, Sophie tells of the hard work and tasks involved with looking after her unicorns, such as hunting for food, teaching them magic and protecting them from enemies. Illustrations show Sophie’s unicorns are created using paper, carrots and toothbrushes taped to toys, pets and even a younger sibling, which is very funny to see.

Guest Post: Holly Godfree on Students Need School Libraries Launch

Everyone knows that school libraries are vitally important for:

● Connecting students and teachers with high quality literature
● Saving time finding quality physical and digital resources

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Review: Ruby in the Ruins

The end papers are the first to inform that this is a book about WW2. Copies of advertising posters in olive green make you stop and read them. 

You get the feel of how things were during wartime, whether it be how sandwiches were made without butter, or a call out for Air Raid wardens.

The war is over and the soldiers are returning home. London is in ruins but the bombing has stopped. 

The children that had been sent into the country areas for safety have returned to their homes again. Celebrations are taking place everywhere due to the pooling of rations.

Review: Bob's Blue Period

In the story, Bob the ArtistMarion Deuchars introduced readers to a young self-conscious skinny legged bird who discovers his self-confidence. In her new story, Bob's Blue Period, we find Bob facing a new challenge.

Bob does everything with his best friend Bat. They especially love to paint together.

Until one day Bob finds a note on his easel, telling him that Bat has to go away for a while. Unsurprisingly Bob feels lonely without Bat and he begins to paint using the colour that best represents his mood, blue.

Bob painted blue bananas, oranges, trees and even the '...BIG BLUE HOLE where BAT used to be.'