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

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Review: Giants, Trolls, Witches, Beasts

Giants, Trolls, Witches, Beasts breathes new life into ancient fables through an easy-to-read and fun-to-explore graphic novel style.

The book includes ten stories from across the globe—old and famous fairy tales from Russia, Germany, America, Ireland and more. 

And while you may not be familiar with some of the tales (many were new to me), you will no doubt spot the warnings and lessons about courage and obedience that seem to repeat in these kinds of stories, no matter their origin.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Review: Ella Saw the Tree

Mindfulness has become a popular concept in today's bustling world, especially for children. It's about living in the moment and taking notice of the little things in life.

Here, Ella is so busy creating and exploring that she has never really noticed the tree in her back yard. When she finally sees the tree while playing outside one windy day, Ella is convinced the tree is crying as it showers leaves on the ground.

Giveaway: Ella Saw the Tree

Thanks to the good people at Big Sky Publishing, we have two paperback copies of Ella Saw the Tree by Robert Vescio to give away.

Simply answer the following question in 25 words or less. How do you teach your children the important skills of mindfulness? For example, Ella finds her self-awareness while sitting quietly, or taking a walk, or eating a sandwich.

Email your answer along with your name and postal address to dimity@gmail. The two responses we like the best will win a copy of the book. Competition is open to anyone, worldwide, so long as they have an Australian postal address for delivery of the book. Please note, we cannot deliver to PO Boxes. Entries without a name and street address will be ineligible. Winners will be announced right here on our website on Monday 7 May 2017.

Competition runs from 5am Friday 28 April to 9pm Friday 5 May 2017. Adults can enter for those aged 17 and under. This is a game of skill, not chance. The judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

Look out for our upcoming review of Ella Saw the Tree this month.

Review: Night Swimming

Kirby Arrow and her best friend Clancy are the only two seventeen-year-olds in a town where everyone knows everyone.

They're opposites and want different things out of life; Clancy wants to go to the city and pursue his musical theatre dreams and Kirby is content living with her mother and grandfather who has dementia and help out in their goat's-milk soap business.

Kirby is an apprentice carpenter, has a pet goat named Stanley, and chooses not to leave home and go to university because she likes being with her family in a small country town. Besides, her family has a history of leaving, and Kirby doesn't wish to continue the pattern.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Review: The Building Boy

Deeply moving, intense and imaginative, this picture book is about life and death, grief and loss, but still, a story full of hope and resilience. It is about the bond between a child and grandparent.

Grandma and the boy live together in a house filled with love and dreams for the future. In her youth, Grandma had been an architect, and had built countless impressive structures. But age had caught up with her and it was time for her to leave life. How does a boy come to terms with such loss?

Review: Sachiko – A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor's Story

Sachiko, a Nagasaki Bomb Survivor's Story has received no less than sixteen commendations and awards since its publication in November 2016.

However, I was still reluctant to pick it up. I've always been wary of stories about terrible wartime events.

But everything changed when five-year-old Sachiko sat on a worn woven tatami mat and stared at the solitary boiled egg on the family dining table. Would it be shared between the seven people sitting there? I was riveted.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Review: The Forbidden Library (Book 1)

Alice is a rule follower. She is intelligent, patient, kind and obedient, but she is always treated as an equal by her father and therefore finds no reason to rebel or break any rules.

When her father leaves on an unexpected trip and does not return, Alice finds her world turned inside out. Her father's house and belongings are all sold, she is told she has nothing left, and is sent to live with an uncle she's never even heard of.

Upon her arrival, Alice notices that things at her Uncle's mansion are...odd. Being a curious girl, and with no one forthcoming with answers, Alice begins to explore the old mansion and it's oddly forbidden library, and it is here that she stumbles upon secrets that she could never have imagined in her wildest dreams.

Review: The Cave

Some picture books have an amazing ability to leave you feeling happy and satisfied.

It’s the stories that capture you at the start, make you smile or laugh (or both) and end with awesome twists and surprises.

These are the books you remember and reach for again and again. And The Cave, I am thrilled to tell you, is one of these books.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

12 Curly Questions with author Elaine Harris

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you. 
I joined my first choir when I was seven.

2. What is your nickname? 
There are many but Laine is the most often used.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Review: Nibbles: The Book Monster

Meet Nibbles, an adorably too cute monster who likes to nibble on everything, from socks and clocks, to toes and soap, but Nibbles' favourite thing to nibble on?

Why books of course! In fact, he seems to have nibbled his way right out of his own book and in to a few others...

This is such a fun story, asking for the reader's involvement to track, spot and eventually capture Nibbles as he chomps and chews his way through books other than his own.

Guest Post: Kate and Jol Temple on Captain Jimmy Cook Discovers X Marks the Spot

Sometime inspiration will jump out and grab you like a sticky handed sasquatch, squeezing you until you fart. Other times it’s more like looking at tadpoles in a septic tank – fruitless and smelly.

The point is, I don’t really know where to find inspiration or if you can even attract it by leaving out little shortbreads in the shape of sausage dogs. This is what I do know:
You need to be open to it, all the time. Also some of the very best ideas seem really boring and usual at first glance. The mundane stuff we all do like go to the toilet, eat breakfast, do homework, paint the cat… all that stuff has lots of funny quirks about it. We all do it slightly differently and I find the little differences can be a source of so much good writing.

But you can’t just sit around writing about eating breakfast all day (well maybe you can, and if you can I would sure like to read THAT book) so what I like to do is mix it up. Like in Jimmy Cook Discovers X Marks the Spot. It’s a mix of crazy stuff like: building a robot, hunting for treasure, pirates who don’t use email and then I mix it with the usual stuff like trying to teach a baby Morse Code. When you mix up the real world and the wildest ideas you end up in a pretty cool place.

Some people say, “No idea is a bad idea.” But that’s not really true. There are lots of BAD IDEAS (eating a swarm of bees for example) but the trick with BAD IDEAS is not to throw them out but use them as a little step ladder to something even better. To me writing is a lot like working with clay you start out to make a vase and you end up with a gargoyle eating hot chips.

For our review of Captain Jimmy Cook Discovers X Marks the Spot visit, here.

Bookish Places: Green Gables Heritage Place

Green Gables Heritage Place (Photo: Sarah Steed)

The Kids' Book Review Bookish Places posts are a chance to celebrate museums, galleries and other places with a connection to children's literature and reading. The posts are compiled by KBR's Consultant Librarian, Sarah Steed, our intrepid traveller and hunter-gatherer of amazing places!

Anne of Green Gables, the creation of Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery, has been loved by generations of readers since she first appeared in print in 1908.

So much so that part of Prince Edward Island, the setting for the Anne series, has become known as Lucy Maud Montgomery's Cavendish National Historic Site of Canada.