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

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

12 Curly Questions with author/illustrator Maree Coote

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
I speak Japanese (a little rusty). I love to swim in winter (very quickly).

2. What is your nickname?
I have a few: Mouse, Min, Ree.

3. What is your greatest fear?
A sky full of drones.

Monday, 16 September 2019

Review: Storm Whale

With whales travelling up and down the coast seeking warmer waters, we have a general fascination with these graceful creatures of the sea. 

Sarah Brennan’s story highlights this fascination and the bonds that are forged between humans and whales.

On a bleak and stormy day, three sisters on holiday are walking into town along the beach when they discover a stranded whale. 

Review: How It Feels To Float

In this exquisite debut novel, Helena Fox has used her own personal experiences to create a stunning piece of work that will leave readers gasping from its pure beauty. 

Delivered with heart and truth, Fox shows us how mental illness steals the colour from life and leaves only grey; how it sucks away all the joy until ‘all you want to do is walk into a forest and cover yourself with leaves’.

Elizabeth, called Biz, is in Year 11. Her father died when she was seven. Her grief has never left her. She sees him everywhere. He has conversations with her almost daily.

Biz can’t control the darkness that descends on her. It is on one of these occasions that she walks into the sea and is saved by Jasper, a new boy in class. But it is some time before a friendship is built, as Jasper ignores her and she him.

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Review: The Cities Activity Book

Hooray for another sticker activity book from Lonely Planet!

The Cities Activity Book is, like its companion book, The Travel Activity Book, full of fun for young travellers.

Using the same format, The Cities Activity Book features cities from around the world, complete with information about what makes them famous or memorable.

We're told that Brussels, the capital of Belgium, has two official languages (French and Dutch) and is well-known for chocolate, beer, waffles and comic books!

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Review: Ivy Bird

Ivy is a redhead that loves birds. They surround her life. She associates herself with these feathered friends and imitates their calls and actions in play. She can trill and chirp, peep and chatter, cackle, tweet and squawk. 

Ivy enjoys a singular freedom which the sight of her birds and their sense of autonomy give her, for what she sees stimulates her imagination. It sets up her whole day.

Jess Racklyeft’s passion for drawing small birds, and her medium preference of watercolour, allows her to portray in the brightest light, McCartney’s creative and demonstrative text. 

Review: You Are Your Strong

Sometimes feelings can be so huge, they seem to overwhelm us. When big emotions rise inside you, how can you find your Strong? In this gentle book, written by Danielle Dufayet and illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin, we see children finding their own special ways to cope with their big emotions; by finding their Strong.

In the beginning of the book, the children turn to loved ones, who guide them with calmness, bravery, love and gentleness, when worry whispers, scared creeps in, sadness sprinkles and mad stomps in. But there are times when we each need to find our Strong, all by ourselves. Here we see the children in the story following their own hearts and minds to find their Strong in so many ways.

Friday, 13 September 2019

Giveaway: Harold's New Friends R Aliens!

Harold is a young boy who really wants to be hero but he just can't seem to make it happen. 

All of a sudden he has 3 crazy little aliens in a 'Birdship' that want to help him out … Iggy, Tsk-Tsk and Duke have a secret rewind button and their own ideas on what he should do, but it's all down to Harold to get it right ...!

Thanks to the cleverly creative people at Sagacious Vision, we have not one but three copies of this brilliant book to give away!

To enter, in 25 words or less simply tell us, what you would do - if your new friends were 3 crazy little aliens (that no one else could see) and they had superpowers to help you become a Hero!

Review: Enola Holmes Mystery: Book 6 - The Case of the Disappearing Duchess

The Enola Holmes Mystery series ends with Book 6 - The Case of the Disappearing Duchess. 

I enjoyed every word I read, with the language of the Victorian era being a special bonus. The delicious sound of lost words like fulminous, ubiquitous, precipitously, fortuitous, effulgence and many more that flow through the narrative renewed my flagging interest in lost things. 

Stimulating pads of words such as his dismissive tone starched my spine, interspersed throughout each book added a spicy texture to the narrative and dialogue. I see them as gems to be collected.

Enola has taken lodgings at the Professional Women’s Club with a new identity as Sherlock has learned too much about where she had been with Mrs Tupper. 

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Review: Miss Kraken

All the kids are stunned to know they have Miss Kraken a strict, cranky, weird looking octopus for a teacher this year. When the class goes on an excursion to the aquarium, things quickly wind out of control; the class misbehaves and suddenly Miss Kraken is nowhere to be found!

Meet The Illustrator: Xiaojie Liu

Name: Xiaojie Liu

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less. 
Emotional, colourful, vibrant, vivid, free, flat, patterned, joyful, fantasy and abstract.

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
If I create digital illustration, I will draw sketches using pencil, and then scan them, and using
Photoshop to create the final work. Therefore, the scanner is an essential part of my creative
space.

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Review: Animology

Author and illustrator Maree Coote has done it again with an extraordinary collection of illustrations made entirely from letters.

This time, Maree turns her attention to an exotic range of animals, with everything from tigers and flamingos, to whales and owls, showing off her striking use of colour and typography.

Each animal is created from the letters of its name and is accompanied by a playful and quirky rhyme that's so much fun to read out loud. The rhyme includes a fact about the animal featured, along with a clever reference to letters and words.

Look What I'm Reading! Janeen Brian Children's Author

I am a full-time, award-winning children’s author and poet and have been writing for about 35 years. I love picture books, short fiction and poetry, but have also enjoyed writing 3 upper-grade novels, and information books. Many of my 100 + titles have been translated and distributed world-wide.

Which children’s book are you currently reading?
My recent reading has included, Lenny’s Book of Everything (Karen Foxlee), The Gruffalo, (Julia Donaldson), Leave Taking (Lorraine Marwood) Cool Poems (Kate O’Neil) The Art of Taxidermy (Sharon Kernot) and The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee by Deborah Abela. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of them but am currently reading Abela’s follow-up book, The Most Marvellous Spelling Bee Mystery.