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

Monday, 17 June 2019

Review: What Shape is an Elephant?

A story from the 13th Century Persian poet and spiritual leader Rumi has been given new life in this exquisite picture book from Indian non-profit organisation Katha.

The fable tells of travellers from India who bought an elephant to a fair in the land of Iran. Night had fallen when they reached the fairground so the animal was locked in a shed.

The people of Iran, who had never seen an elephant before, were curious and crept into the dark shed. Unable to see the animal, they used their hands to feel different parts of the elephant, trying to make out the shape in their mind. For some it was smooth and flat, for some it was long and supple, and for others it was thick and sturdy.

This mystical story about a spiritual animal in many different religions seeks to explain why people have differing notions about life. It highlights the need to look beyond what we can touch in the palm of our hand, to see more than what is in front of us.

The poetic and spiritual nature of the story is open for interpretation and a wonderful way to open up discussions of deeper concepts.

The many layers of the story are captured stunningly in the illustrations of Iranian artist Feeroozeh Golmohammadi, who uses black and brown ancient-style backgrounds punctuated with rich, vibrant colours and patterns for the people and elephant.

It's a story that promotes reflection, inclusion, imagination and spiritual awareness.

Title: What Shape is an Elephant?
Author: Rumi
Illustrator: Feeroozeh Golmohammadi
Publisher: Katha , $19.99
Publication Date: 2005
Format: Hard Cover
ISBN: 9788189020484
For ages: 4+
Type: Picture Book

Review: The Coat

Picture Book of the Year, 2013, The Coat with Ron Brooks’ exquisite illustrations from cover to cover including the end pages, is a divine experience. The text is as magical as is the coat that the story is about.

The coat is filled with straw and stands in a paddock. It is tight with anger and feels it’s wasted simply being the resting place of straw and various small creatures.
What a waste of me! it bemoans its fate. 

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Review: Natural Born Loser

Raymond aka RayBee feels like a permanent loser. No one wants to be on his soccer team – even in the five-minute game before school. And he goes to Barryjong Primary, which has such a bad reputation, the principals don't stick around.

Until Mr Humble arrives. He says he wants to turn the school around but he needs a team to help him.

When Mr Humble calls for grade six students to try out as prefects, Raymond follows his best friend Zain into tryouts and ends up surprising himself.

RayBee can't believe it when Mr Humble says he was the only one who spoke about how he felt. So begins Raymond's Odyssey  from self-proclaimed loser to heartfelt leader.

Look What I'm Reading! Kirsty Murray Children's Author

Kirsty Murray is a multi-award-winning author of more than 20 books for children and young adults.

Her works include eleven novels as well as non-fiction, junior fiction, historical fiction, speculative fiction and picture books. She loves books, libraries, bookshops, readers, writers, and stories of every shape, size and manifestation.

Which children’s book are you currently reading?
I’ve just finished reading Carole Wilkinson’s Inheritance. I try and read a couple of children’s novels each week. Inheritance is definitely one of the most outstanding novels I’ve read this year. 

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Review: The Ultimate Survival Guide to Monsters Under the Bed

If you (or someone you know) is a little wary of monsters lurking beneath the bed, you need to get your hands on a copy of The Ultimate Survival Guide to Monsters Under the Bed.

Have you ever really given much thought to monster problems?

Completed any testing? Come up with any theories? 

Well lucky for you, now you don’t have to, because Goodnight Labs has done all the hard work for you. 

Review: Make and Play: Space

Make and Play: Space is a fabulously fun and intergalactic activity book, perfect for keeping young space fans happy for hours.

Friday, 14 June 2019

Review: Kisses in Your Heart

A beautiful tale about love and family, Kisses in your Heart will warm your insides and have kids feelings all kinds of special as you read it to them.

The story explores a parent's love and how kisses carry the magic of comfort. No matter where you go, a kiss from a loved one stays with you. 

Review: Darwin: An Exceptional Voyage

Darwin: An Exceptional Voyage is a gorgeous graphic novel about naturalist Charles Darwin's five-year voyage across the world.

An adventure grounded in history.

From 1831-1836, Darwin travelled the world on the HMS Beagle, his enthusiasm and experiences enabling his research and recording of discoveries and his early scientific theories.

Darwin's story is told with each of the five legs of his journey acting like chapters.

His trip begins with sailing from England to Cape Verdi and Brazil; then Argentina, Uruguay and Patagonia; Tierra Del Fuego and Chile; to the Galapagos Islands and the Pacific; ending in Oceania and South Africa, before heading home to England.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Review: Young Dark Emu: A Truer History

It is evident from the stunning cover that great thought has gone into the design and presentation of this outstanding production. 

Black, ochre, and the rich reddish colour of earth have been used as background for the emu, fish, yam daisy, and a settler riding a horse which indicate the content. 

These colours that continue throughout the book reflect the Indigenous people, their culture, and powerful bond with Country.

‘Dark Emu is a shape in the dark areas between the stars of the Milky Way.’

Meet The Illustrator : Ruth De Vos

Name: Ruth de Vos

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
Colourful, layered and slightly quirky

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
Good light, a cup of coffee, plenty of paper and room to spread it all out.

Do you have a favourite artistic medium?
It doesn’t get much better than pencil on paper, but when I’m not illustrating on paper I LOVE to make ‘illustrations’ with fabric and stitch. I do this by stitching together lots of little pieces of fabric, and incorporating some dyeing and screen-printing.

Name three artists whose work inspires you.
Shirley Hughes, Freya Blackwood and Leon Pericles.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Review: Science You Can Eat

Have you ever wondered why onions bring tears to our eyes? Or why popcorn actually pops? How about the mysteries of the world's smelliest fruit or how to make edible slime? Well, wonder no more. In this exciting and informative new book, Science You Can Eat, you will find all these answers and more!

Author, Stefan Gates, is a well known television presenter in the UK who has written many books and presented many programs on science and food. In his clear and humorous style, readers can learn fun facts and try some of the experiments at home to prove or disprove their scientific hypotheses.

Review: Paint with Magic

Explore the joys of painting and creating in this charming, rhyming picture book from Sandi Wootan and Pat Kan.

When a child finds a box with the label ‘Paint with Magic’ on it, they discover the power to bring their paintings to life on the page.