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

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

10 Quirky Questions with author/illustrator Caroline Magerl

1. What's your hidden talent?
I can fly! At the age of seven, I realised my hidden talent. After taping on a set of cardboard wings, I leapt from a swing just as it reached the highest point of its arc ... I was no fool. There was a moment, just before the wings came off, where I was flying. Sticky tape is such treacherous stuff.

2. Who is your favourite literary villain and why?
Count Olaf. The reason I enjoyed this particular slippery villain was the effect his chameleon quality had on the Baudelaire children. They constantly had to adapt, and look down the road to what might happen next. We don’t usually have just one nemesis in life do we? There is always another Count Olaf out there!

Monday, 18 November 2019

Review: Mum's Jumper

Filled with hard-hitting heart and emotion, this is a story of loss, grief and acceptance.

Mum’s Jumper opens with a scene showing a young girl visiting her mother in a hospital room, I knew from that moment that I might not get through the story without a few tears, and I was right. After the passing of her mother, the girl goes through physical and emotional processes that follow the death of a loved one; a funeral, sympathies, tears, numbness, anger and more.

Review: The Secret Starling

This debut novel is multi-layered and exciting. It’s built on scattered pieces of information that are gathered together and built into monumental and tension-filled episodes of action and revelation which propel the story to a sizzling climax.

Clara calls Braithwaite Manor her home. But it is a place without warmth, love, laughter, play or company. Her uncle, a detached, unemotional man has a regimented routine which allows only the bare essentials needed to stay alive. 

Clara knows nothing about her mother except what her uncle told her – that she was a famous ballerina and died giving birth to her.

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Review: Cunning Crow

From the stunning deep mulberry cover, featuring the penetrating stare of the cunning crow, fringed by dot-painted circles of earthen-hues, through storms, sunlight, rain and fire, to the vivid rainbow palette of the end pages, this meaningful picture book is an exquisite work of art.

In Cunning Crow, renowned author/illustrator, Gregg Dreise, shares the wisdom of Aboriginal Elders in this story about appreciating and accepting each other, in all our differences.

Saturday, 16 November 2019

Giveaway: The Book of Stone

Every stone has its own unique story – and everybody needs a story stone and a book to collect it in!

Together Mark Greenwood and illustrator, Coral Tulloch, have created a book that allows them to share the theme of geological wonder, solitude, special memories and places through stone. 

The Book of Stone will encourage children to play outside and explore, look at the stars, feel the heat of the sun, sit, stare and contemplate nature. The layers of thought and emotion, captured in Coral’s imaginative illustrations, will encourage kids to connect with nature on an individual level by finding stones weathered by time, with curious shapes and colours, polished smooth by wind and water.

To celebrate the release of this amazing new picture book by Mark Greenwood and Coral Tulloch, the wonderful people at Walker Books Australia have not one but FIVE prize packs to give away! Each pack consists of a copy of the book plus a superb rock box collection of gorgeous gemstones to enhance your life.

To enter, in 25 words or less simply tell us what do you love to collect and why?

Review: How to Grow a Friend

How to Grow a Friend uses growing a plant to help explain to littlies what it takes to make friends and over time how to look after their friendship.

Using this metaphor the story can be shared at multiple levels, depending on your children's ages.

Sara Gillingham's bright, charming, stylised illustrations bring the story to life.

The insightful images show pre-readers, actions they can take to grow a friendship and a seed.

Friday, 15 November 2019

Review: Miss Eliza Flowerdew Can Nearly Touch the Ceiling

Lucy is five. She is curious as to how long it will take her to do and see as much as grown-ups can. Her grandpa changes a light bulb without a ladder. Her mum can reach the clothes line, while Lucy can only now, reach the biscuit tin. She wonders how high someone 100 years old is able to reach. She’s determined to find out.

She discovers Miss Eliza Flowerdew, who is 99 years old, lives next door! Imagining at that age she could reach the ceiling, Lucy sets out, tape measure in hand, to get solid proof of her theory, and be witness to this mind-blowing event.

Guest Post: Helene Magisson on The Secrets Behind Illustration

When reading one of my latest picture books, a 10-year-old little girl asked me this question:

‘What do you tell in your illustrations that is not mentioned in the text?’

I was amazed by the relevance of this interesting but rarely asked question. 
And yet it is exactly this question that gives my profession its fascinating spark. 

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Review: Animals At Night

The sun sets at the end of another day, but have you ever wondered what happens after dark? 

This beautifully illustrated book shows different parts of the world and the animals that come out after dark. 

This is so much more than a picture book; it really is an introduction to animals and their homes.

Author Katy Flint has written this book with younger readers in mind who are just learning about animals. 

It features an overview of the selected area and provides pockets of information about the animals and their habitats.

Meet The Illustrator: Leanne Watson

Name: Leanne Watson

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
My illustration style is traditional and contemporary Darug Aboriginal art.

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
It is essential that I have art paper, canvas, paints, brushes and ink. My space is comfortable and has good lighting.

Do you have a favourite artistic medium?
My favourite medium is acrylic and ink printing.

Name three artists whose work inspires you.
My mum Aunty Edna Watson, My brother Bundeluk Watson and Leanne Tobin.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Look What I'm Reading! Karys McEwen

Karys McEwen is the librarian across both Prahran High School and Richmond High School in Melbourne, Australia. 

She is the current President of the Children's Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Victorian Branch and a judge for the Older Readers category in the 2020 CBCA Book of the Year Awards. She is also the 2019 Books + Publishing Junior columnist. 

She is passionate about the impact of literature and libraries in the engagement and wellbeing of young people.

Review: Liarbird

Have you ever told a lie? A little white lie, or a big porky-pie? Well, the lyrebird learns how to lie from the day it hatches. And this lyrebird loves it.

From impersonations to big fat whoppers, he soon becomes 'the best in the bush at fibbing, faking, fabricating and fake-news creating'.

Adults and children alike will get plenty of giggles out of this modern-day Australian fable, which is more a commentary on social etiquette than simply just telling the truth.

Of course, the lyrebird eventually takes his lying too far and learns that terrible things can happen when you stray from the truth.