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

Sunday, 7 March 2021

Review: The Polar Bear in Sydney Harbour

Do you know where polar bears can be found?

They usually live in the Arctic, a place that's super cold and full of ice.

However, The Polar Bear in Sydney Harbour has a different story to tell.

It's the story of Hannah, who lives in Sydney, and one day sees something completely unexpected. A polar bear floating on a small iceberg in the middle of the harbour.

Sydney Harbour is definitely not somewhere you would expect to see a polar bear, but Hannah takes it in her stride.

Saturday, 6 March 2021

Review: Fish Kid and the Turtle Torpedo

Despite a lingering apprehension for things of a sharkish nature, I still find the underwater marine world a place of mystic and magic and that's exactly what young readers can expect to find in Kylie Howarth's fintastic Fish Kid adventure series.

The third book in this high octane action series is The Turtle Torpedo. Bodhi aka Fish Kid to his parents and closest chum, Emely, are on a small island in the Maldives. 

To fans of the series, it's no shock to discover that Bodhi's ability to swim faster than a torpedoing tuna and dive deeper than a whale shark is now second nature but for newcomers, this super power means Bodhi is able to zip around coral islands and commune with sea creatures to his heart's content.

When he and Emely rescue a small ailing turtle, things intensify. They take the turtle to a nearby rehabilitation station. 

Friday, 5 March 2021

Review: Dog

Another challenge to translate the magnificence of Shaun Tan’s book Dog. Throughout history and perhaps beyond, the deep and lasting friendship between Man and dogs has been documented for its authentic and unchanging relationship.

Books have been written about the loyalty and faith of dogs. This is what Tan succeeds in transferring to the page.

His illustrations display the natural longing to be together and share the love and loyalty that exists between human and animal.

Thursday, 4 March 2021

Look What I'm Reading! Nova Weetman

I write books for middle grade readers, aged between 8-14. My most recent book Sick Bay came out in 2019, and I have two new middle grade novels coming out this year: The Edge of Thirteen (March 1), and Elsewhere Girls (May) which I co-wrote with author Emily Gale.

 I live in Melbourne with my two children, and when I’m not writing I’m op-shopping, reading or cooking. 

Before writing books, I worked in television.

Which children’s book are you currently reading?
I’ve just finished reading Tiger Daughter by Melbourne author, Rebecca Lim.

10 Quirky Questions with author Allison Tait

1. What's your hidden talent?
I have a nose for trouble. Just ask my boys. I can scent that they’re up to no good even before they’ve finished planning their misdeeds.

2. Who is your favourite literary villain and why?
Miss Trunchbull from Matilda. So big, so mean, so (apparently) impossible to defeat when you’re just a kid.

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Review: Shine

In my lightning, you’re the light.
In my brightly, you’re the bright.

Oh boy, don’t we love our families! Kids jumping on our beds too early in the morning, wrestles with dad on the carpet, building cubbies and bath time bubbles. 

Shine is an exploration of all these moments. The ones we love IN the moment, PLUS the ones we love in hindsight because they made our kids so happy (like letting the kids style your hair).

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Review: The Edge of Thirteen

Nova Weetman’s powerful portrayal of the awkwardness of early youth and the changes it brings, demands attention be given to the anxiety and angst experienced by teenagers trying to fit in. She employs an intimate, immersive approach, which succeeds in placing the reader in the characters’ space.

Clem is on the cusp of teenage life. Who she was no longer applies as it’s the teen in her age that dictates change. Santa is no longer a presence at her Christmas celebrations, and her chest is determined to stay underdeveloped compared to her two best friends’ Bridge and Ellie. This is a critical concern for Clem. They stand straight, while she remains hunched over.

During the school holiday period, her friends have undergone a metamorphosis. An interest in boys has awoken in them the priority to look and behave differently.

Monday, 1 March 2021

Guest Post: Michelle Worthington on Sensory Aspects For Children with ASD

It can be frustrating for parents to get kids engaged in reading at the best of times, but even harder for children on the spectrum.

My best tip would be don’t attempt to try and read books at bedtime. They are tired and cranky, and you might be too. Find a time during the day that works for them and run with it. Don’t feel guilty if you are not reading to them at night.

Choose sensory friendly books like The Mouse and the Egg. They have a lot of white space and the text is easy to read.

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Review: Stories on My Street

Stories on My Street
is a collection of four stories from renowned British author and illustrator, Shirley Hughes, one of my favourite children's book creators.

The stories, which were first published individually between 1989 and 1991, are about young friends who live on Trotter Street.

The scenarios are familiar and the characters appealing and true to life.

New Wheels for Carlos is about the young boy who wants a new bike. Everyone else seems to have one, and his bike is simply too small to go fast and keep up with the others.

The Big Concrete Lorry features the Patterson family who have three kids and house that seems a bit small for them all. To improve matters, they decide to build an extension, and soon everyone is lending a hand.

In Angel Mae and the New Baby, Christmas time brings excitement for Mae and her family. There's not just the nativity play to look forward to, but also a new sibling expected.

Saturday, 27 February 2021

Review: From Stella Street to Amsterdam and Everything that Happened

Built with carefully chosen images, exquisite prose and humour, this delight-to-read book, celebrates the 25th Anniversary of Elizabeth Honey’s first novel, 45 and 47 Stella Street and Everything that Happened.

New adventures await Henni as she prepares to accompany her ageing neighbour Willa back home to Amsterdam, for a family wedding.

Willa hasn’t been there since she left as a young woman and it seems she’s not ready yet to share any family information with the patient but curious Henni during the first leg of their flight.

Amidst air pockets, turbulence and an experience that they will never forget, the two companions reach Dubai. It is on the flight to Schiphol, that Willa’s mind wanders back to the war years and her childhood. This remembering is a miracle, as she has been forgetting things for ages. Henni is thrilled as all the stories Willa tells are fodder for her writer’s journal.

Giveaway: Fish Kid Prize Pack by Kylie Howarth

Kylie Howarth is an award-winning, internationally published children’s author-illustrator from Western Australia.

She is also part fish! Kylie has swum with whale sharks, manta rays and humpback whales in Ningaloo, piranha and pink dolphins in the Amazon, braved scuba diving with lionfish in Egypt, marine iguanas and hammerhead sharks in the Galapagos Islands and encountered great white sharks in South Africa! 

To celebrate the latest release in her fantastically fishy, junior fiction Fish Kid series, Walker Books Australian and Kids Book Review have a super prize pack to giveaway.

Each pack includes one copy each of the Fish Kid series; Turtle Torpedo, Mega Manta Ray and Lizard Ninja.

For the chance to win this prize pack, in 25 words or less, tell us which sea creature you'd most like to befriend and why? 

Friday, 26 February 2021

Review: The Quicksand Pony (Fifteenth Anniversary Edition)

Biddy has grown up with stories about people who survived rough conditions in the bush.

After all, she was named after one woman who had done so a hundred years ago, the only survivor of a shipwreck.

So when Biddy's parents finally decide she's big enough to come on a cattle drive with them, she's delighted! 

And fiercely determined to show them she's as tough as the lady she's named after.

The adventure begins!

Some items mysteriously vanish from their campsite - but they are the only people for miles in the remote bushland, so it couldn't have been a thief.