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

Thursday 20 June 2024

Review: Lights Out, Little Dragon!

Little dragon is so tired, but he won’t go to sleep. What can I do?

Our little protagonist has a problem, and she needs your help to solve it. Trace a path to help dragon escape from rogue leaping sheep. 

Wednesday 19 June 2024

Junior Review: Science FACTopia!

Science Factopia! is packed full of amazing, funny and mind blowing facts about science. Facts like:

Lobsters pee out of their heads to communicate.


The seeds from a sandbox tree can explode, launching them through the forest at 258 kilometres per hour.


When a palaeontologist is unsure if an object is a rock or a fossil, they sometimes test it with a lick.

This book is hilarious and interesting at the same time. I learnt a lot of cool facts about so many different science things, and the book was really easy to move through.

Tuesday 18 June 2024

Review: Glow

On one level Glow is a story about a young girl and a robot. On another level, it's a story about memories and relationships, and grieving the loss of someone.

In a scrap yard filled with abandoned vehicles and all manner of broken items, a young girl tinkers with bits and pieces.

Although the word death is not used, it's fairly clear what's happened.

The narrator describes the journey the girl and her dog take as they walk through the scrap yard, over mountains of junk, across water, searching for memories and leading to a place hiding something special.

12 Curly Questions with author Nick Long

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
Once, in Mexico, I was served a pizza topped with banana and cherries. I was horrified but ate it anyway because it was still pizza!

2. What is your nickname?
Boringly, it’s ‘Longy’. As a kid I tried hard to be given a cool nickname like ‘Knuckles’ but I could never get one to stick.

Monday 17 June 2024

Review: Boots

Boots was just a pair of boots.

A pair of Australian boots personified, tell the story of their life, encompassing the life of the person wearing the boots.

The boots sat waiting for someone to choose them from amongst the mix of clothing in the store window.

They were ready when the man and the boy came in and paid their money. 

When the man put them on, the boots and the man became one.

Friday 14 June 2024

Review: Ivy Newt and the Storm Witch

Ivy Newt is the princess of the Sand Witches. It’s the start of school holidays, it’s her birthday and a big storm is descending upon all of Miracula. So big that her friends can’t even get to her party.

To cheer up Ivy, her dad performs a magic show. But something goes very very wrong, and both of Ivy’s parents disappear, leaving Ivy and her wolf familiar, Tom, all alone in their giant castle.

Determined to find her parents, Ivy and Tom set off on an adventure that leads them across Miracula.

They meet allies and enemies, but the more they search, the more it seems something is amiss. Was that storm just an ordinary storm or something else? Is there someone plotting to hurt the kings and queens of Miracula?

Thursday 13 June 2024

Meet The Illustrator: Ramona Davey

Ramona Davey

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
It's becoming more bold, bright and simplistic. Less equals more!

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
Sketch book, pencils and tracing paper for initial ideas, then I move onto my ipad with an apple pen and work in the Procreate art app.

Do you have a favourite artistic medium?
Digital because mistakes can be amended quicker and as I'm a late bloomer I need to work faster to catch up.

Wednesday 12 June 2024

Review: Billy and the Epic Escape

Billy and the Epic Escape is the sequel to Jamie Oliver's fantastic debut novel, Billy and the Giant Adventure. And what another epic adventure it is!

Autumn, who finds reading difficult, convinces her dad to continue the story of Billy and his friends Andy, Anna and Jimmy, after leaving the story of Waterfall Woods unfinished. 

He agrees and picks up where he left off.

Each of the friends owns a special ability which they call upon when necessary,  and a code name which they use over their walkie-talkies. 

They love to explore, discover, and help anyone in need.

It is Jimmy’s birthday. He wants an animal themed party.

Review: Grey

We all have days when our colour is gone and we feel a little grey.

This book acknowledges that life is not always full of sunshine, and that we are actually still loveable even when we are not our shiny, happy, best selves.

‘I don’t feel sunshine yellow

or balloon orange bright

or treetop green.

Not new idea white

or night sky black.

I am grey today.
I just am.
I am grey.’

Tuesday 11 June 2024

Review: Two Turtles

Terrence is falling off a cliff. Frank is also falling off a cliff. It’s mostly their fault. They started a silly competition that has led them to this predicament, but they’re both so stubborn, neither is willing to work together to fix the problem. 

What will become of these two wilful turtles?

Two Turtles is a hilarious new picture book, written by Kiah Thomas and illustrated by Jake A Minton. Dry humour weaves throughout, similar to Jon Klassen classics like We Found a Hat

It’s a book of silliness and fun, but beneath that is a delightfully subtle story thread about not letting your pride get in the way of friendship. Something that we all have to grapple with sometimes, no matter our age.

Monday 10 June 2024

Review: A Leaf Called Greaf

Grief and mourning are difficult for anyone. So how do you discuss them with a child?

A Leaf Called Greaf takes these concepts and weaves a narrative full of symbolism. It's one that can help prompt discussion of topics that can be complex.

Kelly Canby has written and illustrated the story, featuring a bear as the protagonist. 

When one day a leaf lands on Bear, he names it Greaf.

Review: Numbskull and Nincompoop: Science Fair Shenanigans

Monty and Mandy are the very best of friends. They have such a great time together, they sometimes don’t even realise what’s happening around them! 

Actually, they often don’t realise what’s happening around them, and it has landed them the nicknames Numbskull and Nincompoop!

Drawing chalk on the airport runway and burning down the neighbour’s house accidently on purpose are everyday shenanigans in their world. 

Friday 7 June 2024

Review: One Of Us Is Back

The last in a trilogy of YA books by bestselling, can-do-no-wrong author Karen M McManus, this novel is compelling in every way. And bonus - it works as a standalone title, too.

In essence, this is a murder mystery with teenagers front and centre. Oh sure, there are some adults lurking around the edges but they tend to just make the lunches or drink too much. Most of the time, at the heart of this book are the ‘Bayview Crew’ teens and their people.

The characters are well drawn with believable backstories and identifiable quirks. The narrative is told progressively from multiple points of view, which works really well to both build tension and keep the reader informed of important plot twists and turns. 

Thursday 6 June 2024

Review: I Hear A Búho

Given we have done a little bit of learning Spanish here over the last couple of years, I was well pleased to know that I could not only pronounce all the español in this striking picture book but could understand it. Hurra! 

This a quite simple rhyming picture book with a mother and daughter enjoying a little quiet bonding time before bed.

Climb on my lap. We’re under the moon. We might hear some animales soon.

I love the first image of them cuddled up in the hammock under the stars. 

Wednesday 5 June 2024

Review: Jack's Island

Set during WW2, on an island off the coast of Australia, best friends Jack and Banjo seek to experience adventure and excitement at every opportunity, no matter how dangerous or threatening it is. Their motto is, don’t get caught!

For the people of the island, after experiencing the hardship of the Depression, it seems that lack will never end. Lack of food, lack of clothing, and lack of work.

It is a time when teachers are needed. Those that served in the Great War are called back to teaching duty. But there are some still unfit mentally and emotionally for the job.

Dunny cans and red-backed spiders, building billy-carts, the secret manipulation of the law to keep a boy from being put in a home, and a life-threatening swim in dangerous waters to save the boys’ lives, are part of the structure of this riveting story.