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

Friday, 23 June 2017

Review: Books, Books, Books: Explore Inside the Greatest Library on Earth

The British Library has fourteen floors, and 625 km of shelves that are home to a collection of incredibly valuable and often unique items.

Books, Books, Books, by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom, is a time travel tour of some contents of the British Library, which it calls the world's greatest (and biggest) library. The claim stems from the amazing history stored in it.

Here we find more than twenty treasured artefacts put under the spotlight. Each is accompanied by key factual information and collage-type illustrations that are descriptive of the history.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Review: Supertato Run, Veggies, Run

OK, I'll admit it: I was sceptical when I saw this title come across my computer screen.

"Yeah, right!" I thought to myself.  "No way kids will want to read about vegetables."

Woo boy, was I wrong. Seriously wrong. But first, the nitty gritty.

Terrific 10: Snail Mail

These days snail mail is understood to be a 'thing of the past', but if your kids are anything like mine, they still get a huge thrill from checking the letter box each day, and find it especially exciting to receive their annual stash of birthday parcels and Christmas cards. 

Here we have gathered a list of ten terrific picture books that all feature post, mail, letters or postcards, which are not only enormous fun to read but might even inspire yourself and your little ones to invest some time in creating your very own snail mail to post out.

Meerkat Mail by Emily Gravett, Pan Macmillan, $14.99, 9781405090759, 2-8, KBR Review

Dear Greenpeace by Simon James, Walker Books, $16.99, 9781406367409, 4-8

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers, Harper Collins, $24.99, 9780007513758, 4+, KBR Review

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Review: Stepping Stones

The power and beauty of the picture book has never been more evident as it is here, in this tale of a refugee family’s journey.

Together, the words (in English and Arabic) and illustrations shine with pathos as the tale of Rama and her family in war-torn Syria unfolds.

Review: No Virgin

Anne Cassidy writes the hard stuff.

In Looking for JJ, she explored the thoughts of a child murderer after her release from prison as a teenager: you can't get much darker than that.

But No Virgin hit me harder, because it was so much closer to home.

Stacey Woods is an ordinary teenager with the usual sorts of home, school and relationship issues. I suspect we all want to get away from it all the way Stacey did.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Review: Birdy Flynn

Birdy has secrets. She’s ‘one of the boys’, and loves the freedom it gives her. Martin, one of the group, who plays a small but outstanding and crucial role, knows Birdy’s most intimate secrets. 

Knowledge is power for him. Mercilessly, he physically and emotionally bullies Birdy, who is a person with great potential, but without opportunity. You empathise with her character immediately. This is the draw card.

12 Curly Questions with author Shelly Unwin

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you. 
I used to be a chronic sleepwalker. I once packed up my entire bedroom, including the pictures on the walls and the curtains. Fortunately I grew out of it!

Monday, 19 June 2017

Introducing -- our new Meet The Illustrator Coordinator!

Good news often succeeds wistful goodbyes. Today we farewell another valued member of the KBR family, Nicky Johnston who, after several glorious months of coordinating our Meet The Illustrator interviews, is now packing away her KBR pencils to dedicate more time to her zillion other creative projects. On behalf of the entire KBR team, I thank Nicky for her efforts and wish her even more illuminating moments to come as she immerses herself ever deeper into her craft.

Stepping up into the Coordinator's Role is the equally radiant, Sally Fawcett.

Sally  is an Author/Illustrator, Primary School Teacher and Mum to three kids, a dog and four chickens. She lives in the beautiful country town of Margaret River in the South of Western Australia. Sally loves to draw pictures that move the soul and elicit feelings of connection with nature and people. Sally has published two picture books with EK Books What Could it Be? in 2016 and Through the Gate in 2017. She likes to write stories that inspire readers to interact with the pages and to think beyond the book.

The whole team is as excited as I am to welcome Sally aboard and can't wait to see what wondrous creative talent she can round up for us.

Our amazing team continues to swell and sparkle. Allow yourself to be dazzled and learn more about  them, here.

Meantime, I invite you to get to know Sally.

Yours enthusiastically

Dimity, KBR Managing Editor

Welcome Sally Fawcett!

Sally loves to draw pictures that move the soul and elicit feelings of connection with nature and other people. Sally won 2nd place Peoples’ Choice 2015 and 1st place Peoples’ Choice 2017 at the Margaret River Annual Art Auction. She also won Peoples’ Choice at the Margaret River Readers and Writers’ Festival Art Competition 2017. These wins were a great encouragement to keep creating. Sally mostly uses ink and watercolour on paper for her artistic creations.

Sally has published two picture books with EK Books What Could it Be? in 2016 and Through the Gate in 2017.She likes to write stories that inspire readers to interact with the pages and to think beyond the book. Her ideas come from the children in her classes at school, her own children, children in the street and sometimes from her own childhood.  These ideas tend to jump into her mind while in the shower or doing the dishes—perhaps the flow of water brings the flow of ideas. Sally has many more ideas for picture books clambering for a space in her mind and demanding she sits down and actually gets them on paper. 

Sally also works part-time as a primary school relief teacher. Her favourite subjects to teach are, not surprisingly, Art and Writing. But she also loved to teach Maths!  Sally reads picture books to children every day, even bigger kids!  She believes no-one is too old for a picture book. 

Visit Sally at her Blog, here.

Review: Where is the Very Hungry Caterpillar?

The Very Hungry Caterpillar has to be one of the all-time great classic picture books. I’ll happily buy any of Eric Carle's wonderful work and this new lift-the-flap board book for toddlers is just gorgeous!

I have to admit this is the sixth addition to my Very Hungry Caterpillar book collection. I have all the variations from press button noisy books, touch and play books, board books and, of course, the classic picture book. Despite my already extensive caterpillar collection, this one was a welcome new addition.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Book List: Fictional Rabbits and Hares

Hop along and jump into a burrow full of books with this selection made up of classic and contemporary stories featuring rabbits and hares.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, Penguin Books, $12.99, 9780723247708.

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, Penguin Books, $16.99, 9780141364889.

Guess How Much I Love You? by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram, Walker Books, $16.99, 9781406300406.

Guest Post: Shelly Unwin on Launching her Debut Picture Series

The last two years have been a time warp. Most of the time went by so slowly as I tried to wait patiently for my series to be ready to go to market, and then the last four months have rattled past faster than a Japanese bullet train. Im still very excited about the books arrival into stores, but, just quietly, Im also packing it.

Ive never done this before. And Im very attached to my five little babies. I want them to succeed. I want them to be loved by all and bought by the truckloads. But of course until theyre out there you dont know how theyre going to be received.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Event: We're Going on a Bear Hunt Live on Stage

I love We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. It is one of the favourite books in my household and all three of my kids enjoy the fun, excitement and adventure of this story.

When I heard there was a stage show I was excited but somewhat apprehensive.

How do you turn such a classic book into a stage show?  And can you really stretch the story out to entertain kids for a whole hour?