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

Monday, 24 September 2018

Review: Our Birds

Sienna Stubbs, a young Yolnu woman, was 12 years old when she took up photography using her iPad. 

Her aunt gave her a camera as a present, and from then on, what she loved most opened up to her. 

With Our Birds, a gorgeous gift book of photography, the now fifteen year old Sienna shares the beauty and culture from around her home in Yirrkala, in North-east Arnhem Land.

Review: Where's Dad Hiding?

Where's Dad Hiding by Ed Allen and Anil Tortop, is a delightful humourous hide-and-seek story. Dad is really good at this game.

As little wombat searches for Dad your toddlers will giggle in delight. They will think that they are so clever as they find Dad's hiding spots, especially when he is hiding in plain sight and little wombat cannot find him but they can.

Where and how does Dad hide?
Dad disguises himself  as a cow.
Dad hides behind a tree.
Dad hides up high with birds.
Could Dad hiding be on the bus?

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Review: Flamingo Boy

Flamingo Boy is one of Michael Morpurgo’s best works. It is set in the salt flats of Camargue in France, in a landscape where flamingos live and breed, at around the time of the German occupation of WW2. Here the autistic Renzo, a strange and unnatural child that didn’t belong in normal society, lives with his parents on their farm. He is wild and free; protector of the flamingos, and a healer of birds and animals; a person who could inhabit their essence and become who they were.

A painting that falls from the wall in Vincent’s room in England, leads him on a quest to Camargue after he discovers a message inscribed on the back. He sets out on his journey and while camping at his destination, becomes seriously ill. He is found by Renzo and taken to the farmhouse where he is nursed by the healer and Kezia, the only other occupant of the farm.

Review: Unicorn!

A story of friendship, secret promises and magic, Unicorn! is a treasure that will delight all fantasy and unicorn lovers.

In Unicorn!, a young girl’s best friend (Luka) has to go to hospital. The girl tells Luka to make a wish and she will make it happen. 

But when Luka wishes for a unicorn, the girl finds it harder than expected to make the wish come true.
She never gives up, though. And when she finally delivers the magical unicorn to Luka, they both enjoy the wonders of their new secret friend.

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Review: Ada Twist's Big Project Book for Stellar Scientists

Andrea Beaty has written picture books about children with passions that when fostered lead to careers in science, architecture and engineering.

Now Beaty and David Roberts have created an activity book based on the picture book Ada Twist Scientist, to foster a curious child's exploration of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) related occupations.

Ada Twist's Big Project Book for Stellar Scientist is packed with 40 plus things to discover, draw and make. Within the book there are places for children to write and draw, making it a special and personalised project book.

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 EH 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.