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

Saturday, 23 January 2021

Review: Mountain Arrow

After their trip to the abandoned city to fine medicine to save their village, Pandora and her friends have returned to the river. But one of them didn’t make it back and is still out there somewhere, and another is carrying the deadly virus that turns people into feral creatures.

Going back to the way things were before seems impossible, but Pandora tries, all the while battling her feelings for the mountain boy, Bayat, who protected them on their trip to Melney, and trying to accept her fate to be paired with Matthew.

But when the Mountain People appear looking for shelter, other refugees start to flood the river village and Pandora’s visions of the past and future come back, she knows trying to restart a normal life was naïve. 

Friday, 22 January 2021

Review: Feathers

Feathers is about a young boy whose mother has died.

He collects feathers because his Mum told him they keep bad dreams away, and he believes he will dream of her if he can catch them.

The boy chases the feathers as they float from above.

Sometimes they are just out of reach. Other times, a feather will land close by. 

One day when a brown feather is caught, the boy calls it his wish feather and places it under his pillow. He waits for dreams of his Mum, and feels her with him, always.

The feathers in the story are symbolic, and used as a reminder for the boy of the mother whose no longer with him.

Thursday, 21 January 2021

Review: The Diary of William Shakespeare, Gentleman

Inconceivable!  Somehow, I had not yet read this and that is just weird for several reasons: it’s a Jackie French historical fiction, it’s about William Shakespeare and it’s Jackie French *grin*. So of course, it went onto my holiday reading list which is not always about new releases.  

I absolutely loved it to bits. Part history, part humour, part conjecture on Shakespeare’s life and times this is one that would appeal not only to your lovers of historical fiction, Jackie’s other Shakespearean-themed novels but as a ‘read around your topic’ for students with the Bard on their reading list.

The great writer has retired very comfortably, with wealth and social status, to his home in Stratford where the humdrum of domesticity and a life far removed from London and his acclaim often plagues him. 

To alleviate the tedium William takes up his pen again to write a diary for his own pleasure. 

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Review: Fly On The Wall

This hilarious graphic novel turned diary follows 12 year old Henry Khoo as he is about to embark on the greatest adventure of all.

Feeling smothered by both his mother and sister who still treat him like a baby – Henry sets out to prove them wrong.

When his annual trip to visit his father in Singapore is cancelled, Henry decides he is still going regardless. Besides it’s not like anyone will actually miss him?

Henry’s so called best friend has found new friends, leaving him alone. His sister is totally distracted and his mother only notices when things are not done properly around the house.

Starting an anonymous blog called ‘Fly on the Wall’, Henry publishes his tales of woes for the world to see – but will they really see him and stop his audacious plan?

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Review: Pandemic

At the end of World War I there were huge celebrations as families reunited. But the returning soldiers brought another surprise home with them; the Spanish Flu. Just like war, this disease changed the world when it evolved into a pandemic.

History is repeating itself, with the modern world currently experiencing a pandemic. Beautifully crafted, this picture book by renowned Australian author Jackie French and Australian illustrator Bruce Whatley takes us on a journey through hardship, loss and generosity of spirit.

12 Curly Questions with author Amelia Mellor

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
These days my computer is my most valuable tool, but the first time I used a computer, I was so scared that I cried. My teacher had told us that a monster in the ceiling would chomp our legs off if we were naughty, and I was terrified that it would chomp me for pressing the wrong button.

2. What is your nickname?
Mim, because my sister couldn’t say ‘Amelia’ when she was little.

3. What is your greatest fear?
Being forced to play sport on TV, or a weird picture of me becoming a meme.

4. Describe your writing style in 10 words.
Colourful worlds, quirky people, emotional rollercoasters, might give you nightmares.

Monday, 18 January 2021

Review: Let's Go!: On a Digger

Lots of kids love diggers! They are fascinated by their size, ability, and that their movement is close to robotic.

In the brilliant Let’s Go! series of board books for toddlers, the latest one is On a Digger. With vivid colours and rhyming verse, little ones learn the names of each part of this huge piece of machinery and how the parts function.  

Operated by a girl driver, the giant yellow digger scoops up mud. She sits in a high seat that allows her a clear and safe view of everything around her.

Winner: Picture Book Magic Pack: There Is No Magic In This Book and How To Make A Bird


Our lucky winner is...

Jane Harris on behalf of Miss 7, VIC

Congratulations! 

You have won a copy of, There Is No Magic In This Book by Michelle Macwhirter and Sophie Beer and How To Make A Bird by Meg Mckinlay and Matt Ottley. 

We hope you enjoy these two exquisite titles and that they help you rediscover a little magic in your life.

Thank you to ALL who entered. This was a close one and we wish we could combine all of the suggested magical abilities into one giant one because then we'd be unstoppable! 

Sunday, 17 January 2021

Review: Little Gem

Younger readers who love the Worst Witch series (whether books or TV) will fall in love with Little Gem, a little witch who lacks confidence and, actually, skills.

When her spell cast at the Witchcraft School goes horribly wrong, Gem finds herself in a completely unknown setting – a small seaside village where the inhabitants all immediately welcome her as the new village witch. 

There is great excitement as the village has been lacking their own witch for many years, but Gem is more concerned with getting back to her own time and place – and her cat. 

Besides this, she knows she is not very skillful with even the simplest of spells!

Saturday, 16 January 2021

Review: Come Home Ella

Having a new baby in the family is an exciting event, a cause for celebration.

But what happens when the new baby arrives early? What if you can't visit the baby?

Come Home Ella is the story of just that situation, when an older sibling discovers their baby sister couldn't wait to see the world, but isn't quite big and strong enough to come home yet.

We share the experience with the older sibling, who is never named.

There are lots of things they want to share with their new baby sister. Things like hugs (which is why there's a hug chart to record all the hugs that Ella will get when she comes home).

Friday, 15 January 2021

Review: Monstrous Devices

Looking for the perfect story to escape from everyday life? Then Damien Love’s debut novel is a spellbinding, roller coaster of a ride . . .

Alex is your normal, everyday 12 year old; whose world is filled with friends, bullies demanding money and unrelenting homework. Nothing ever happens in his world, that is until a package arrives from Prague.

His grandfather has sent him an old tin robot along with a cryptic message that ‘this one is special’.

Alex disregards the note, but then strange things start to happen. His English essay finishes writing itself and then the school bully Kenzie Mitchell is put in his place mid-sentence without lifting a finger. The only connection is the old tin robot.

Thursday, 14 January 2021

Meet The Illustrator: Shirley Shelby

Name
: Shirley Shelby

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
Heartwarming, humorous, textured, bright, sweet, a little quirky and joyful.

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
My sketchbook, set of pencils, iPad, laptop, Wacom tablet and watercolor paints. I usually work digitally these days using Procreate and then sometimes take my work into Photoshop, but I also like to hand draw my illustrations from time to time as well.

Do you have a favourite artistic medium?
I think that would be Procreate on my iPad and Photoshop on my laptop since I work most of the time digitally, but I also love sketching too.