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

Sunday, 20 October 2019

Review: Is It Halloween Yet?

Pumpkins turned into jack-o'-lanterns. Bats, ghosts, pointed hats and black cats.

Spooky themed food and candy.
Costumes of ghosts, mummies, witches and bats.

Is it Halloween Yet? by Susannah Chambers and Tamsin Ainslie is a story about a little girl, Emily, and her excitement for the arrival of Halloween.

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Review: Her Fearless Run

Full of inspiration, optimism and challenge, the story of Kathrine Switzer’s Boston Marathon run will resonate with anyone who has dreamed of achieving great things.

In 1959, Kathrine was twelve when she discovered the magic of running - something that for girls was unheard of at that time. 

At 17, she was running laps on the track at Lynchburg College, one of the few schools where women were allowed to run in men’s races. 

After interviewing teammates for the school newspaper, the longing to run a marathon burned inside her.

Friday, 18 October 2019

Review: Pumpkin Heads

This is a warm hearted exploration of friendship, set in the world’s best pumpkin patch.

So, having grown up with American television, I assumed I was on top of all of their traditions. But obviously not. 

I had no idea that a Pumpkin Patch was a thing – an autumn harvest festival that continues for about two months culminating in Halloween. 

The pumpkin patch itself features as a character as much as Josiah and Deja, a pair of teenagers who work there.

This sweet graphic novel takes place over the final night of the festival. This will be the last time that Josiah and Deja will run the succotash stall ever, as they will be off to college the following year. 

Review: Inventor Lab: Projects for Genius Makers

Have you ever wondered how to make an infinity mirror, a door alarm or your own bugbot? How about a remote-controlled snake, a bottle boat or an electromagnetic crane? Inventor Lab has the information to make these and many other inventions.

This clear and concise how-to manual, begins with an important section on safety, followed by a summary of the tools and materials referred to in the book, and brief tutorials on some of the skills required, such as using a drill, a hot glue gun and a soldering iron.

There are ideas for budding and accomplished inventors, with step-by-step instructions, aided by distinct photographs, allowing readers to build real working machines from common materials.

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Video: The Tiny Star

The extraordinary storytelling talents of Mem Fox and Freya Blackwood have combined for the first time to bring us the tale of The Tiny Star. The book is about the special relationship between children and their grandparents, and touches on the 'journey of life', as the children are born and grandparents die. In this video, Mem and Freya share a little of their experience creating The Tiny Star.

Title: The Tiny Star
Author: Mem Fox
Illustrator: Freya Blackwood
Publisher: Puffin, $ 24.99
Publication Date: October 2019
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9780670078127
For ages: 3+
Type: Picture book

Review: Promise Me Happy

Promise Me Happy opens with Nate the main character, being released from Juvie. 

He is picked up by Uncle Mick, his dead mother’s brother, and taken to an area surrounded by water where oysters were once harvested. There Mick lives on frozen, packaged food while he cooks for his dog Barry who has allergies. Mick has sadness in his eyes, the residue of something broken in him.

Nate meets the mysterious and magnetic Gem, the girl who works at the local store, and Henry, who is not Gem’s brother but lives with her and her mum. 

Gem is smart and sassy, and as attracted to Nate as he to her. Henry is clever, but different to other children, therefore somewhat marginalised. He loves the water and is as familiar with the area as with his breath that goes in and out.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Review: There's a Dinosaur in my Bathtub

A fabulously fun, imagination-filled story of a dinosaur in Amelia’s bathtub.

In There’s a Dinosaur in my Bathtub, Amelia tells readers of her secret, the dinosaur from France named Pierre in her bathtub. Having Pierre there is great; they have many adventures together including chocolate milk on the moon, giant ice-creams and when it rains they dance upside down in their pyjamas. Challenges occur too, like where should Pierre should hide when Mum needs to wash her hair?

In the essence of all good things coming to an end, Pierre packs his suitcase and says goodbye to Amelia after a delicious picnic with plenty of his favourite cheese, but maybe, just maybe he’ll be back.

Review: Mr Chicken All Over Australia

Taking his two years as Australian Children's Laureate as inspiration, Leigh Hobbs has created a new adventure for his character, Mr Chicken.

Mr Chicken All Over Australia starts with Mr Chicken receiving a letter inviting him to visit.

Deciding it's a good idea, he heads off, and on arrival makes his way straight to the tourist office.

Armed with a map and letters from children all over Australia inviting him to see what makes their homes special, Mr Chicken is soon traversing the country all over, from east to west, and top to bottom.

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Review: Six Sleepy Mice

Gorgeously illustrated you would almost forgive these six sleepy mice if you found them in in your kitchen, they are so cute.

This beautifully written tale of friendship and adventure is brought to life with the fast-paced rhyming and hilarious situations.

The story centres around six sleepy mice who discover a banquet of food in a kitchen cupboard. They celebrate by gorging themselves on nuts, popping corn and anything else they can get their furry little noses into.

12 Curly Questions with author Liz Ledden

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
I eloped to Paris and had both my kids in Bangkok. Running away overseas is one of my favourite things to do!

2. What is your nickname?
It’s pretty much just Liz (no one ever calls me Elizabeth), but some old friends still know me as Squiz.

3. What is your greatest fear?
Sneezing while driving – that moment when your eyes involuntarily close is terrifying!

Monday, 14 October 2019

Guest Post: Q & A with Liz Leddon on Tulip And Brutus

Tulip and Brutus is your new picture book, about a ladybug and a stinkbug who never play together. What inspired this story?
The initial idea for Tulip and Brutus was based around two things – wanting to write an unlikely friendship story (one of my favourite types of picture books!) and thinking about kids not knowing what they’re missing until they’re exposed to something new. 

One of my kids was going through a period of insisting they hated certain foods, and when they finally tried them, they’d often discover they actually loved them!

Review: Every Child a Song

Lyrical and poignant, this glorious celebration of children has been published for the 30th Anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

It reminds us that every child must be protected by the articles laid out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and that every one of us must play a part.

Every Child A Song tells of the song that begins when every child is born — A melody the world had never heard before.