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

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

12 Curly Questions with author Tamsin Janu

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
I’m obsessed with green peas. I’ve been known to eat entire bowls filled with peas, only peas, for a meal. Strange but true.

2. What is your nickname? 
Tam. It used to be Tammy, but when I got to around 10 or 11 I decided Tammy was too babyish, and no one was allowed to call me that anymore.

3. What is your greatest fear?
Being stuck in an elevator or another small space, and not being able to get out.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Review: Nevermoor


Morrigan is cursed. Not only do the townspeople blame her for everything that goes wrong in their lives, they demand compensation. Luckily her father is extremely rich.

Morrigan lives in a loveless world where her freedom is measured by the potential damage her presence might cause. As a cursed child, she is also scheduled to die on her twelfth birthday but everything changes on Bid Day.

Not only do four sponsors vie to retain Morrigan as their apprentice, the sky clock cuts her expected lifespan short – by a whole year.

Of course, Morrigan can't die when the story is about her, but the setup is definitely a high-action way to start.


With an eight-legged all-terrain vehicle, a Magnificat as tall as a door, dragons, shadow creatures and a Hotel that changes its internals the way I change my clothes, Nevermoor is a world that hooks the imagination and doesn't let go.

Review: Harry Potter: A History of Magic and Harry Potter: A Journey Through A History of Magic

If I could only choose a couple of books about the Harry Potter series to own, these would be right up there.

Released as the official books of a major exhibition at the British Library with the same name, Harry Potter: A History of Magic and Harry Potter: A Journey Through A History of Magic are a fascinating insight into the the world created by JK Rowling in her books.

Settle down for the long haul when you start to work your way through the 250 odd pages that is Harry Potter: A History of Magic. It's surely the ultimate companion to the Harry Potter series.

It's big and it's jam-packed with many manuscripts, objects, artworks and other items held by the British Library.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Review: Discovery Globe: Build-Your-Own Globe Kit

The Discovery Globe: Build-Your-Own Globe Kit introduces the world of geography to budding explorers. As the title suggests, it's a kit made up of a book and a DIYglobe.

The book offers a summary of different environments found around the world, and some key geography concepts, such as time zones and biomes, as well as sharing a little of the world's different cultures.

Also included are examples of natural wonders of the world (e.g. Mount Everest, Victoria Falls, Uluru), extreme weather (e.g. bushfires, tsunamis, volcanoes), and World Heritage sites such as Stonehenge, the Great Wall of China, and the Great Pyramid in Egypt.

Review: The World's Worst Pirate

Michelle Worthington has written an action-packed, amusing and memorable pirate story.

The World's Worst Pirate contains all the expected dangers for a pirate ship sailing the seven seas but it includes an unique twist.

Will, our unlikely hero, has a problem, he hates being a pirate especially as he gets sea sick.

Will's mother, who is the Captain of the aptly name ship the Jolly Fishcake, dreams of Will becoming a pirate captain. He dreams of being a chef in his own restaurant.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Book List: Cricket

Howzat! It's the word that can be heard shouted from the field in the middle of a professional cricket match, and across the suburbs as backyard cricket matches are played in summer. For the sports-mad cricketer in your family, here are some books to get them reading when they're not batting, bowling or fielding.

Aussies vs England: Game On! (Mighty Mitch #1) By Mitchell Starc, Scholastic Australia, $9.99, 9781742763194

Review: The Amazing Animal Atlas

Elegant, beautiful, colourful and informative, The Amazing Animal Atlas explores interesting animals from across the world. 

Categorised by habitats and regions, you’ll learn about ebony bears and musk oxen from the Arctic, colossal squid and crocodile icefish from Antarctica, the northern pika and red panda from Asia and so much more. 

Animals from every continent are featured and there are pages dedicated to underwater creatures as well. 

Ecosystems are discussed, there a maps on every page and a handy index at the back allows you to quickly find your favourite critters. The book has been very well designed.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Review: Weirdo #2

Anh Do's story about Weir, whose surname happens to be Do (get it? WeirDo?) is full of fun.

Weirdo's family is a little weird. His Dad can burp-sing, his Mum is obsessed with bargains and his grandad is a magician: he can make his false teeth disappear. Even Weir's pets are a bit odd.

When Bella invites Weir to her birthday party, he agonises in the supermarket over what to get her. It's definitely not the itchy bum cream...

Can Weir survive his little brother's cleaning phase? Will Bella ever see Weir for the nice guy he is? And what about Weir's amazing drawing skills?

Review: LEGO Absolutely Everything You Need To Know

LEGO Absolutely Everything You Need To Know is another fabulous and engaging publication from DK Books.

I grew up playing with LEGO. My son received his first LEGO DUPLO set for Christmas when he was only 9 months old and LEGO was a gift that kept giving until his early teenage years. I thought I knew a lot about LEGO. I was wrong.

This book kept me exclaiming 'Wow! I didn't know that.' For instance I didn't know that while LEGO was founded in 1932 they didn't manufacture LEGO bricks until 1955. Originally LEGO built toys made from wood and some of their early toys were a fire truck and a duck on wheels.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Review: Bring it On (Play Like a Girl #1)

The success of the AFL Women’s competition this year has encouraged a growing interest in AFL as a sport for girls. Young girls playing footy finally have role models. They can see a future in the sport and can imagine themselves playing for their favourite team.

The new Play Like a Girl series will appeal to any sport loving girl who has ever thought about giving footy a go themselves.

Sarah moves to a new town and on her first day makes friends with Hahn, who plays for the girls’ footy team. Sarah used to live near the beach and her passion has always been surfing, so even though she enjoys watching footy, she has never really thought about playing it herself.

Review: Ride High Pineapple

Everyone is talking about the film Wonder at the moment. Based on the best-selling book by RJ Palacio, it tells the story of 10-year-old Auggie, born with a terrible facial condition.

Ride High Pineapple tells a similar tale — of the heart-rending discrimination that comes with facial differences. But, for author Jenny Woolsey, it's a true story.

Born with the rare Crouzon Syndrome, which is characterised by a sunken face and bulging eyes, Jenny knows what it is like to live with daily prejudice and bullying. And she has had to watch her daughter and son, also born with Crouzon Syndrome, live with it.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Review: Busy Builders: Airport

What a fabulous book/craft/toy. Busy Builders: Airport really has it all.

The book part is just brilliant. Around 23 pages of facts and information that step you through the whole airport adventure from the moment you pick up your ticket to landing at your destination.

You’ll learn about body scan machines, baggage handling, preparing for flights, air traffic control, planes in the air and landings.

And all the information is simple and easy to read, so kids can easily follow and understand it.

If you’re heading off on your first big trip or the kids just love airplanes and airports, they will love the details and interesting facts.