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

Saturday, 11 July 2020

Book List: Gifts for Newborns

When a new baby is born, what better gift to give than a book or two? Books make wonderful keepsakes and will be loved and read for many years. The KBR team has pooled their resources and compiled this list of favourite books to give at special times like this. Some are classics that have stood the test of time, while others are newer and will soon create their own memories. We hope you enjoy them and make this a 'go to' list whenever you want to find something particular to give.


1 2 3 of Australian Animals by Bronwyn Bancroft, Hardie Grant Egmont, $14.99, 9781760501860.

Boo! by Margaret Wild and Andrew Joyner, Penguin, $19.99, 9780670078073.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr and Eric Carl, Picture Puffin, $16.99, 9780141379500.

Classic Nursery Rhymes by Chris Riddell and Dorothy M Wheeler, Bloomsbury, $29.99, 9781472932389.


The Complete Adventures of Blinky Bill by Dorothy Wall, Harper Collins, $14.99, 9780732284350. (Read our review)

The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs, Harper Collins, $49.99, 9781460756218. 

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd, Harper Collins, $17.99, 9780064430173. (Read our review)

Guess How Much I Love You? by Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram, Walker Books, $16.99, 9781406300406. (Read our review of the pop-up edition)

Hello Little Babies by Alison Lester, ABC Books, $14.99, 9780733339882.


Hug by Jez Alborough, Walker Books, $16.99, 9780744582734.

Kissed by the Moon by Alison Lester, Penguin, $19.99, 9780670076758. (Read our review)

Mummy, Carry Me Please! by Jane Cabrera, Holiday House Inc, $32.99, 9780823444748.

My First Animalia by Graeme Base, Penguin, $19.99, 9780670077489. (Read our review)

My Sunbeam Baby by Emma Quay, ABC Books, $24.99, 9780733333552. (Read our review)

Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr Seuss, Harper Collins, $9.99, 9780008385156. (Read our review)


On the Day You Were Born by Margaret Wild and Ron Brooks, Allen & Unwin, $14.99, 9781760633004. (Read our review)

Possum Magic by Mem Fox and Julie Vivas, Harcourt Brace & Co, $15.99, 9780152632243. (Read our review)

Rudie Nudie by Emma Quay, ABC Books, $14.99, 780733331732.

The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown, Harper Collins, $17.50, 9780064430180. (Read our review)

Smile Cry by Tania McCartney and Jess Racklyeft, Exisle Publishing, $14.99, 9781925335378. (Read our review) 

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury, Penguin, 24.99, 9780670072392. (Read our review)


The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, Harper Collins, $19.95, 9780060256654.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, Penguin Random House $12.99, 9780723247708. (Read our review)

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, Penguin Random House, $16,99, 9780140569322. (Read our review)

The Very Noisy Baby by Alison Lester, Affirm Press, $19.99, 9781925475616. (Read our review)

Welcome: A Mo Willems Guide for New Arrivals by Mo Willems, Walker Books, $24.99, 9781406383584.

Where is the Green Sheep? By Mem Fox and Judy Horacek, Penguin, $19.99, 9780670041497. (Read our review)

Friday, 10 July 2020

Junior Review: Wonderscape

Arthur has always had a simple, ‘normal’ life. He would go to school; enjoy his science lessons and he’d love to spend time with his father. That was until he and his friends Ren and Cecily discovered a portal to the future.

There had been exploding gnomes outside the house the same morning and Arthur, Cecily and Ren all went in to investigate. Before they knew it, they were transported into the extraordinary game Wonderscape.

This was not just any ordinary game. This was a game where the player was transported into a real dimension. There was a catch though.

Arthur had always lived in the 20th century, but they had now been transported to the 25th century into a live video game populated by characters from throughout history.

And if they stayed in this Wonderscape game for more then three days, they were condemned to turn into snot. To find their way home they had to find the missing Milo, the creator of Wonderscape, and his time key. On the way this small trio met many allies and friends which they will forever treasure.

Thursday, 9 July 2020

Review: Puffin Little Cook: Snacks

Get your kids in the kitchen with Puffin Little Cook: Snacks.

This is a brilliant little book filled with fun and easy recipes the kids can try. And with breakfast snacks, lunch snacks, dinner snacks and sweet snacks, there’s something for everyone.

The recipes really are simple ones: Anzac biscuits, dippy eggs, vegetable pikelets and more. 

There are also recipes that require no actual cooking (like energy balls), so kids really can make them from start to finish.

Meet The Illustrator: Rebecca Crane

Name: Rebecca Crane

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
A mass of characters with interesting personalities.

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
Lots! My desk space is always a bit chaotic, which is how I like it. Sticky notes are particularly essential – I have them everywhere, with tiny sketches and ideas hastily scribbled and stuck somewhere. Antique prints and photos, small ceramics, stacks of books, bottles with plants and flowers…I like to be surrounded by things I love and find inspiring.

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Review: Rabbit's Hop

AFL football star Alex Rance is back with another book, following the success in 2018 of his first children’s title, Tiger’s Roar. The messages here are of kindness, empowerment and always doing the best you can.

Yellow and black covers (Richmond colours of course!) open to exquisite images by award-winning illustrator Shane McG of the characters in the book on a double spread. 

Work hard, be kind and enjoy yourself is the message Rance sends to his readers before he starts the story.

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Look What I'm Reading: Yvonne Mes

Yvonne Mes is a children’s author and illustrator, book reviewer, Write Links coordinator and early childhood educator. 

She buys more books than she can read, comes up with more ideas than she can get on the page and has more children than she can manage (3 boys). 

But she does try very hard, and best of all, she is NEVER bored.

Which children’s book are you currently reading?
The Tale of Despereaux, The Graphic Novel. This graphic novel is based on the motion picture screenplay, which in turn was based on the book by Kate DiCamillo, which was then adapted and illustrated by Matt Smith and David Tilton. It was published in 2008 by Candlewick Press.


Can you tell us in two sentences what the book is about?
A brave mouse, who follows a knight’s code of honour, battles rats, cats and darkness to bring the light AND soup back to the city of Dor.

12 Curly Questions with author/illustrator Kate Knapp

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you. 
On a personal level, I feel a strong connection with the spiritual and mystical. I find it fascinating. I believe that our loved ones walk with us and there are messages in nature if you look.

Monday, 6 July 2020

Review: How to Make a Pet Monster: Hodgepodge

Artie is eleven, a science freak and the narrator of this story. He believes only in what he can prove. Especially not in monsters and ghosts!

This belief changes dramatically when the family moves into a new and spooky house. 

Even spookier is his stepsister Willow and his unconventional stepfather, for whom Artie has trouble finding a name with which to address him.

Review: Boo Loves Books

Boo Loves Books is a heartwarming story of a special connection formed through reading between a girl and a dog named Big Boo.

Phoebe is the only one in her class who doesn’t enjoy reading, she worries about getting the letters, sounds and words wrong so much that her tummy does flips. When her class goes on an excursion to the animal shelter, Phoebe meets a gentle but nervous dog named Big Boo and with the support of her teacher she reads him a book.

Sunday, 5 July 2020

Review: Super Side Kicks: Ocean's Revenge

Dive into the next action-packed adventure of cartoonist Gavin Aung Than’s Super Sidekicks series. Where the real heroes are the superheroes sidekicks. 

Catch up with Junior Justice (JJ to his friends), Flygirl, Dinomite and Goo as they face the next diabolic threat to humanity.

What starts off as an ordinary day of doing the usual sidekicks’ tasks; buying hair gel, collect the dry-cleaning and cleaning the toilet turns into something they have never encountered before.

Tiamata, Mother of the Seas has had enough of the human race using the ocean as a junkyard. Now it’s time for payback and a taste of their own medicine.

Saturday, 4 July 2020

Junior Review: The Verindon Alliance

The Vendel and Verindal races have been at war for centuries, attacking each other and conspiring against each other.

Vashta is the youngest of the Vendel princesses and hates to get trampled on by her older siblings. She is the most skillful fighter of her family and loves the anticipation of battle.

Brandonin is the prince of Verindal and his sister Larinda is the princess. Brandonin wants peace with both the races and will do anything to have his way.

But when the Vendel royal family is visited by the Verindal heir, Brandonin, they discover that a new alien species, the Arctals, is attacking both their races.

Vashta and Brandonin must unite their races before both the Vendel and Verindal become extinct. 

Friday, 3 July 2020

Review: My Place (For Younger Readers)

An abridged version of the 1987 classic, My Place for younger readers is a book that has lost no power in the 33 years since it was first published.

This book should be read by everyone. It should be read and discussed. It should spark anger and tears and hope and belief. 

That’s what powerful books do. And this book has mountains of power.

My Place is the autobiography of Sally Morgan — author, illustrator, creative genius. You might recognise her name. She’s created so many beautiful books you may have read to your kids (Dreamers, Girls Can Fly and so many more).

This book is her story, her life from childhood into adulthood and the discovery she made as a child that she and her family were Aboriginal.