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

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Shout Out: The Cryptic Casebook of Coco Carlomagno and Alberta

Meet Coco Carlomagno, Chief of Police in Buenos Aires, and his cunning cousin Alberta. Together they solve crimes by thwarting the plans of criminal masterminds and clearing up misunderstandings and confusion.  Who are these amazing crime-fighters and defenders of public order?

Why, they are guinea pigs, of course!

The Cryptic Casebook of Coco Carlomagno and Alberta is a fantastic humour-filled junior fiction series by talented author/illustrator team Ursula Dubosarsky and Terry Denton. Filled with adventure, word play and puzzles to solve, these books are ideal for confident young readers looking for challenging first chapter books.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Review: The Black and White Club

There is a new club at the Heavenly Hippos Wildlife Park – The Black and White Club. Anyone can join, as long as they are black and white. Or black. Or white.

The penguins, zebras, skunks and other black and/or white animals get together for a fantastic party including some thrilling games of dominoes, but none of that helps poor George the Giraffe. He isn’t black or white and he can’t join in the fun.

Review: Now Look What You've Done (Timmy Failure #2)

Self-confident, bumbling and always triumphant despite the chaos he creates, Timmy Failure is irritatingly adorable. When you realise that his business partner really is a semi-hibernating polar bear, the stage is set for an out-of-ordinary tale.

Timmy spends a lot of time considering his own genius without bothering to actually think very much. Convinced he is the world’s best detective, Timmy sits back and waits for the answers to find him.

12 Curly Questions with illustrator Michael Camilleri

 1. Can you tell us something hardly anybody knows about you?
I have recently become addicted to cooking game shows

2. Do you have a nickname and if so can you tell us what it is?
My son is seven and he has the same last name as me, so I’m not telling.

3. What is your greatest fear?
Sometimes I feel like the experience of being alive is empty and pointless and no connection between people is real or even possible and everything I will ever be or make is worthless.  My greatest fear is that it’s not just depression.

4. Can you describe your illustration style for us in 10 words?
little bit Rembrandt, little bit kid-scribbling-on-his-desk.

5. Can you tell us five positive words that describe you as an illustrator?
Ambitious, dramatic, thoughtful, symphonic, scratchy

Monday, 28 July 2014

KBR Short Story: September Challenge

As part of KBR's brand new Literary Hub initiative we are putting out the call for creative short stories aimed at children aged 4 to 10.

Each month we offer a short story theme and challenge you to submit an amazing, creative story of 500 words or less based on that theme. The best stories will be published at Kids’ Book Review each Friday morning.

That's right. We want your short stories to share with our KBR readers, who just happen to include a rather impressive array of children's book industry professionals, from Australia and around the world.

Want your work to fall under the watchful eyes of publishers?

September submissions now open!

The theme for September is JUNGLE.

Closing date for September submissions is 25th August 2013. Full submission details can be found here.

September story submissions can be emailed to anouska(AT)kids-bookreview(DOT)com.

So, what are you waiting for? The September challenge is out there and we're wild with excitment waiting to read your stories!

Review: Scary Night

Once upon a scary night, three friends set out on a journey. Hare, Cat and Pig wander through the darkness. Where are they going? What will they do there? Will they arrive safely or will the scary forest send them running back home before they can complete their journey?

Do your little ones enjoy a story with a little bit of suspense and a slightly spooky edge? Do they like to cuddle under the covers, tucked up safely against your side as they hold their breath in anticipation of the turn of the page, filled with a mix of apprehension and excitement? Scary Night is the book for them (and for you)!

Guest Post: Lesley Gibbes

Kids' Book Review is delighted to welcome author Lesley Gibbes who shares with us her journey to publication and her tips for want-to-be authors. Lesley has just released her debut picture book Scary Night, published by Working Title Press.

It was a gardening day at Flower Power when my phone rang and I got the call every want-to-be writer dreams of, a call from a publisher who’s just pulled your manuscript out of the slush pile and loves it.

I was so excited when the person on the phone said she was Jane Covernton from Working Title Press and she was interested in my picture book Scary Night. What followed was a lengthy conversation about what type of story Scary Night was and what I was visualizing as I wrote the sparse text. It was a bit of a struggle to answer her questions and embarrassingly, I had to ask if she would put our conversation into an email because my two very young children were bickering and tugging on my trouser legs in the Flower Power play equipment area, competing for my attention.

Finally, Jane asked would I mind if she took Scary Night to the next level. Well, I had no idea what the next level was so of course I said yes! The next level, as it turned out, was to give my manuscript to an agent and see if an illustrator, a very particular illustrator, was interested in taking it on.  It turned out this illustrator was interested and guess who he was…Stephen Michael King! I was tickled-pink!

What came next was a two and a half year wait until publication and that awful feeling that perhaps you’re just a one hit wonder. So after a bad bout of writer’s block (6 months), I set to work and secured an agent, had another three picture books accepted for publication and landed a chapter book series too. It’s been such an extraordinary journey.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

WIN! Mr Chicken Lands on London

Mr Chicken flies again!

Mr Chicken lands on London, checks in at the Savoy, and proceeds to visit a special friend before taking in the sights…all of them! Until he’s forced to go back to the hotel for a lie-down. He’s soon back at it, however; Mr Chicken wants to see everything. His touring culminates in a very special experience. In the morning, after yet another full English breakfast, he sets sail for home.

Mr Chicken Lands on London is the sequel to the internationally best-selling Mr Chicken Goes to Paris.

Popular author/illustrator Leigh Hobbs works across a range of artistic mediums, but is best known for his children’s books featuring Old Tom, Horrible Harriet, Fiona the Pig, the Freaks of 4F, Mr Badger and Mr Chicken. Old Tom is also a popular TV series, and Leigh has won every major Australian children’s choice award.

Thanks to the generous people at Allen & Unwin, we have five copies of Mr Chicken Lands on London to give away. Each copy is valued at $24.99.

To win, tell us in 25 words or less, which city you think Mr Chicken should visit next and why.

Type ‘Mr Chicken’ into the subject line and email your answer to susanATkids-bookreviewDOTcom. The most creative answers, as judged by KBR, will win. Be sure to include your full name and address — entries without will be ineligible. Please provide a street address, as prizes cannot be delivered to PO Boxes.

Competition runs from Sunday, 27 July 2014, 9pm to Sunday, 2 August 2014, 9pm AEST, and the comp is open to residents of Australia, over the age of 18 (mum and dad can enter on behalf of kids). This is a game of skill, not chance. The judges' decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. Prizes cannot be delivered to PO Boxes. To be considered valid, entries must include a name and street address. Privacy statement: Winners' contact details are forwarded to the relevant publisher. Other contact details are not shared. All contact details are permanently deleted at competition end.

Review: Russian Roulette (Alex Rider)

“Living as a boy of fourteen in a Russian village, it had never been my intention to become a contract killer.”

Meet Yassen Gregorovich. Once a boy named Yasha who lived in Estrov, a poor country village. Then an incident started a chain of events that changed his life dramatically.

It all begins at the factory where his parents both work. When there is an accident and his father refuses to obey instructions, Yasha suddenly discovers the truth about what they do and must run for his life. His survival depends on escape from the soldiers who descend on the village, so he travels to Moscow by way of Kirsk. There is no-one and nothing left for him in Estrov, but the help he thought was waiting only brings more danger.

Review: Mr Chicken Lands on London

It's been a few years since we first met Mr Chicken — that enormously oversized bird complete with tiny top hat — in the multi-award-winning Mr Chicken Goes to Paris. But now he's back … and it's been worth the wait!

London is Mr Chicken's favourite city in the whole world and he can't wait to see all the sights. He's a chicken with style, so naturally he stays at the Savoy. After a full English breakfast, first stop is Buckingham Palace — time to visit his special friend, the Queen.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Review: Princesses are Not Just Pretty

Princess Allie, Princess Mellie and Princess Libby were enjoying a well-earned rest under the rose trellis after a busy day of princessing. Mellie encourages the others that despite their hectic schedule they still manage to look fabulous. Of course, Princess Mellie acknowledges, she looks the prettiest, but the others manage to still look quite lovely too despite their fatigue.

Cue a battle royale over who is really the prettiest. Of course, each princess is convinced that it is her and in the end, it is obvious that the issue will not be resolved without a formal beauty contest. All three princesses primp and prepare for the big day, but when it comes, will they choose arriving at the competition looking perfect over taking care of the responsibilities of the Princessdom?

Review: One Minute's Silence

On Remembrance Day, in one minute of silence, you can imagine a war long gone - Australian soldiers fighting and dying on a distant shore, the sound of gunfire, and the courage and fear of young men far from home.

If you really try, one minute of silence is also long enough to think about the enemy, another group of young men filled with courage and fear, fighting and dying for their homeland.

One Minute’s Silence is an incredibly moving account of the Gallipoli campaign, portrayed in a way that emphasises the similarities of the young men on either side of the battlefield in what is arguably Australia’s best known military battle.