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

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Review: Introducing Teddy

Introducing Teddy
Errol and Thomas the Teddy are best friends. They do everything together - ride bikes, climb trees, have picnic lunches and play at the park. One day, even playing on the swings isn’t enough to make Thomas happy and Errol can tell his friend is sad.

“What’s wrong Thomas? Talk to me!”
“If I tell you,” said Thomas, “you might not be my friend any more.”

As important as the central theme of this book is, with Thomas the Teddy revealing that he would actually prefer to be called Tilly and wear his bowtie as a hairbow, there is so much more to this wonderful exploration of identity.

Review: Tom Topp and the Great Adventure Swap

Tom Topp has great plans for the weekend. His three older brothers are all going to be doing really cool things — Eddie is going ice-skating, Henry is going waterskiing, and Rusty is going hiking. The problem is choosing which one of them to go with.

Actually, no, that's not the problem. The problem is that he has a broken leg so he can't go with any of them. No matter how hard he tries to persuade his mother and brothers that he could manage, they're adamant that he won't be going ice-skating, waterskiing or hiking any time soon.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Review: Little Bits of Sky

Ira and her younger brother Zac end up at the orphanage named Skilly House after several foster home trials. Their childhood experiences - the sadness and heartbreak, the kindness and joy, are related later in life by Ira, using the diaries she kept from the time the two entered Skilly.

Ira’s voice is unique. Her sharp powers of observation and use of smart and detailed language reflect her artistic abilities. This helps create a fluid and powerful narrative.

I enjoyed the insertion of the ghost of the unknown Glenda that visits Ira. Who is she and why is she at Skilly? This divergent theme left strings trailing and further whetted my interest.

12 Curly Questions with Mulga the Artist

Image result for mulga the artist

2. What is your nickname?
Mulga, I recited the poem Mulga Bill’s Bicycle by Banjo Patterson when I was in year 5 and Mulga became my nickname from that day forward.

3. What is your greatest fear?
Getting bitten in half by a shark.

4. Describe your illustration style in ten words.
Wacky wonderful colourful weird hairy magical intricately detailed fun humorous

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as an illustrator.
Fun, weird, wacky, hairy, detail orientated.

6. What book character would you be, and why?I would be fishes in ponchos plucking guitars, prancing around under the stars. I can relate to those guys.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Review: The Prehistoric Masters of Literature (Jurassic Classics)


Non fiction or fiction? It’s difficult to decide how to describe this book because The Prehistoric Masters of Literature takes dinosaurs and turns them into the authors of classic literature. 

It’s a mashup that introduces the writers and summarises their lives and achievements from the perspective of the prehistoric reptiles. Who else but William Shakespeareasaurus could have such a “ferocious talent”?

Review: Quick as a Wink, Fairy Pink

This bedtime story is a dreamy rhyming tale of five little fairies, fluttering off to bed--Fairy Blue, Fairy Green, Fairy Gold, Fairy Red and of course--Fairy Pink.

Fairy Pink is the smallest one, you see, and she loves to cause a bit of mischief. Hiding under the bed. In the hamper. Peeking from a box in the wardrobe. 

While the other fairies brush their teeth and slip on their PJs, Fairy Pink continues to gad about until ... sleep catches up with her, too.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Review: A Sea Voyage: A Pop-Up Story About All Sorts of Boats

The siren song of the sea calls in this stunningly beautiful pop-up book, featuring the work of one of my favourite creators.

You can almost smell the salt air as these pages pop to life, vibrantly illustrated and 'active', with multi-layered imagery a true sight to behold. The wings of planes and birds pop in the sky, little pieces of string attach tugboats to cruisers, 3D waves gallop across the ocean surface and sails billow in an imaginary breeze.

Guest Post: Writing a Modern Day Trilogy with Peter Millett

Kids' Book Review is delighted to welcome full-time author Peter Millett to discuss the challenges of writing a modern day trilogy. Peter has recently released the third book in his junior fiction series Johnny Danger.

My first trilogy was written in what I refer to as the 20th century of publishing. (Any time prior to e-books). I was paid an advance based on how long it would take to write the books, and then I set about writing them. Pretty straightforward stuff. There was no requirement for me to be tweeting, texting or Facebooking about my progress - just head down tail up writing.

Fast forward to 2013/14 and the process for writing a commercial trilogy had entirely changed. Due to the massive publishing downturn it was no longer possible to simply write three books in advance and then send them out into the marketplace and hope for the best. Johnny Danger book one was poked, prodded, analysed, focus-grouped and pulled apart then reassembled until every single person involved in the book’s production was satisfied it could survive on its own in the land of the booksellers.

Any thoughts of it being accompanied by sequels were pleasant notions best saved for another day. The elapsed working schedule from getting the original 30,000 word manuscript approved to seeing the second page proofs was about 18 months.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Review: A Message to the Sea


Themes of life, death, and loneliness; the power of faith, and power of the sea, are captured in this brilliant haunting novel by Alex Shearer. Full of mystery and incredibility, A Message to the Sea holds you enthralled from first to last word.

It has been a year since Tom’s seafaring dad was lost at sea. His grandfather was lost the same way. Tom is finding it hard to accept his father’s absence from his life, regardless of all the evidence. He wants answers to his what ifs. So he goes to the source - the sea.

Shout Out: Animalium Mini Gift Edition

What a fantastic addition to the wonderful 'Welcome to the Museum' series! So far there's been Botanicum, Historium and Animalium — and we've loved them all at KBR.

Now there's the first 'mini gift edition', with Animalium available in a gorgeous pocket-size package.

The stunning illustrations and informative text remain. This is still a fascinating guide to the animal kingdom that really does make you feel as if you're walking through a museum, learning about the exhibits. It's just all been scaled back and simplified a little to fit the smaller format — a mini musuem!

The perfect gift for budding zoologists.

Title: Animalium Mini Gift Edition
Author: Jenny Broom
Illustrator: Katie Scott
Publisher: Five Mile Press, $16.95
Publication Date: September 2016
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781760404307
For ages: 9+
Type: Picture Book, Non-Fiction

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Review: Welcome to Country

Wominjeka Wurundjeri balluk
yearmenn koondee bik.

Welcome to Country.

Traditionally, each Aboriginal community has a special welcoming custom to invite travellers and neighbouring communities to their land. 

In this beautifully written and illustrated picture book, Aunty Joy Murphy and Lisa Kennedy welcome readers to the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people of Victoria.

This book articulates the importance of Welcome to Country in a way both children and adults will appreciate, emphasising the connection to environment and community and the symbolism of inviting outsiders to connect with the land and people of a particular region.

12 Curly Questions with James Foley

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you. 
I studied jazz piano until the end of year 12.

2. What is your nickname?  

3. What is your greatest fear?
It’s a tie between clowns, and shuffling off this mortal coil before I get enough time to make all the books I want to make.

Mostly it’s clowns.

4. Describe your writing style in ten words.
Funny, cheeky; pared back as it’s usually accompanying my illustrations.

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.
Persistent, thoughtful, persistent, intuitive, persistent.(Plus a bonus 6th word: PERSISTENT).

6. What book character would you be, and why?
I’m probably most like Sally Tinker from my new book, Brobot. Sally likes to make things and she likes to know how things work. She’s focused on the little details. She started her own company called S.Tinker Inc. She doesn’t like to leave anything to chance; she’d much rather plan things ahead of time. She doesn’t suffer fools. She’s confident and she works really hard (and she should probably take a break more often).