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

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Review: Coco: Big City Kitty

Coco, the star of Coco: Big City Kitty, is a kitten who loves activity and hustle and bustle.

Coco also loves the colour pink, clouds, rainbows, fireworks, making things, and drinking kittycinios. She doesn't like bugs or butterflies, or any kind of creepy crawly.

She's also a listmaker. Coco makes lists of things to do, things that make her smile, cities she wants to visit, and lots more. 

Perhaps more than anything, Coco loves the city, which is full of colour and movement, with people everywhere.

When Coco's parents announce that they will be moving from their apartment on Meowington Avenue in the city, Coco is devastated. Why would she want to move to the country?

Review: Rocky and Louie

Indigenous brothers Rocky and Louie love to play Footy together. The dream locked in Rocky’s heart is to play professionally.

He teaches Louie everything he knows. Not only about footy, but all about their country. He explains respect for the land, how to treat it and its creatures, to protect things that grow, and the importance of fire to restoration and renewal.

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Look What I'm Reading! Sally Murphy

Sally Murphy is a children’s author, poet, academic and reviewer. She lives and breathes kids’ books, and kids, too (she had six of her own and now has four grandkids). In her downtime she is also an avid beach walker.

Which children’s book are you currently reading?
The Julia Tapes, by Emily Rodda (Puffin Books, 1999)

Can you tell us in two sentences what the book is about?
It is told by a girl who is lying in hospital recovering from the events of her holiday.

10 Quirky Questions with author Zanni Louise



1. What's your hidden talent?
Throwing rubbish into bins from a distance. I get it in every time! (Now I’ve said that I have probably jinxed myself!)

2. Who is your favourite literary villain and why?
Mr and Mrs Twit. So impossibly disgusting.

3. You're hosting a literary dinner party, which five authors would you invite? (alive or dead) 
Oliver Jeffers (so cute and quirky), JK Rowling (because!), Kate DiCamillo (such an uber fan), Karen Foxlee (such a lovely person), John Green (biggest literary crush).

Review: What Zola Did on Monday

A beautiful big family, cousins living in the house behind you, a hole in the fence for you to climb through and play. A beautiful street, a community of people you love… a neglected garden that everyone has forgotten.

These are the things that make up Melina Marchetta’s new junior fiction novel What Zola Did on Monday.

Zola lives with her Mum and her Nonna. Her cousin Alessandro lives in the house behind her. She likes to play and go to school and have fun. She’s happy and lively but sometimes she gets into trouble. Sometimes accidents happen… like when she spills her grandfather Nonno Nino’s seeds — the ones he gave to Nonna before he passed away.

Zola needs to find a way to fix things. She needs to save the seeds and make her Nonna happy again.

Monday, 1 June 2020

Video Review: Two Bicycles in Beijing

Join Yvonne as she reviews the picture book Two Bicycles in Beijing and learn more about this sweet story of friendships old and new, lost and found set in the beautiful city of Beijing.



Title: Two Bicycles in Beijing
Author: Teresa Robeson
Illustrator: Junyi Wu
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Co
Publication Date: 1 April 2020
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9780807507644
For ages: 4 - 8
Type: Picture Book


Review: Once, I was Loved

Once much-loved, the toy rabbit Tock, is now relegated to the donations box with other unwanted toys. Life for him started as a gift for the very young Sam and continued through WW1. Together, they baked biscuits for soldiers at the Front.

Tock was then gifted to Flynn who lay in an iron lung in hospital. His presence assisted in Flynn’s recovery as they shared imaginary adventures together to pass the time.

Sunday, 31 May 2020

Video: Human Kind series

What does honesty mean? What about persistence? Author Zanni Louise has written two books that explore these questions. They are the first in a series about values, called Human Kind. In this video, she talks about launching the books and how they can help start conversations with children about these topics.


Title:  Honesty / Persistence (Human Kind series)
Author: Zanni Louise
Illustrator: Missy Turner
Publisher: Five Mile, $19.99
Publication Date: April 2020
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781925970791 / 9781925970807
For ages: 3+
Type: Junior non-fiction


Guest Post: Hannah Davison on Reading for Resilience


Personalised picture books have been around for a long time. For the most part, we see these as a charming gift to make a child’s face light up as they see their name and likeness in print.

Now, we are seeing an evolution take place. The science behind personalisation in children’s books has proven it to fire up neural pathways in a child’s brain, enabling them to better recall information encountered through personalised content.

A study conducted by Dr. Natalia Kucirkova, a Senior Research Fellow at the UCL Institute of Education UK, found that: ‘... children showed significantly better knowledge about the words that were in the personalised sections of the books than the words in the non-personalised sections.’ She concluded that, ‘Personalised books increase children’s vocabulary more than those without personal information about the child ... Books and digital stories to which children can add their own texts, sounds or pictures engender the feelings of agency, empowerment and sense of ownership.’

Saturday, 30 May 2020

Review: Girls Don't Lay Bricks

Girls Don’t Lay Bricks is an inspiring personal story that displays a variety of winning mindsets. In particular, how nurturing a strong belief in one’s self, combined with the ability to think outside the square, can open up endless possibilities in life.

Casey Mackinlay was thirteen when the need for pocket money initiated her first business venture, a hair-cutting service at school. Later, she converted a school project into a money-making Year Ten Formal – within school guidelines, of course!

Casey has lived with a strong belief that when she set her mind to something, she could find a way to see it through. Recognising she was not academically minded like her siblings, her parents agreed to a TAFE course. There she took on a trade – bricklaying, and finished her High School year.

Giveaway: Sally Murphy's Worse Things

From the award-winning author of Pearl Verses the World and Toppling comes a story about connections, the ways they are made and what happens when they are lost or illusive.

When you’re part of the team the sideline is a place of refuge of rest of reprieve. But when you’re out of the team the sideline changes. Suddenly it’s the loneliest place of them all. After a devastating football injury, Blake struggles to cope with life on the sideline. Jolene, a gifted but conflicted hockey player, wants nothing more than for her dad to come home. And soccer-loving refugee, Amed, wants to belong. On the surface, it seems they have nothing in common. Except sport.

Kids' Book Review review coming Tuesday 9  June. Don't miss it!

This touching new inspirational junior fiction story about the things that bind us all by Sally Murphy and illustrated by Sarah Davis, is up for grabs thanks to the kind people of Walker Books Australia. Here's how to enter!

In Worse Things, team sport is used as a key way the main characters find connection. In 25 words or less, what is your favourite sporting memory?

Friday, 29 May 2020

Junior Review: Slime

‘To say Ned was just an ordinary boy would be wrong. He wasn’t ordinary- he was extraordinary…’

Once there was an island and on that island lived a small eleven-year-old boy, Ned. Ned’s family was a busy one, with his dad gone almost 24/7 and his mum gone almost as much. 

But his sister Jemima was an entirely different matter. She was an evil brat, always planning something diabolical.

On Ned’s birthday, Jemima had something planned for him but Ned knew what she was up to. 

After discovering all of the gross gunk she had collected over the years (which she was going to dump in Ned’s yearly birthday bath) he decided to get revenge and put it in her bath. But inadvertently Ned created Slime- a new best friend.