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

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Meet the Illustrator: Jules Faber

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
Crayon clutched in fist with tongue poking out in concentration!

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
My bookcases! I love books and comics and graphic novels. Being able to admire the spines in the frequent moments of just thinking is really inspiring.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Review: Irish Gold

Head of an Irish family of immigrants from Belfast, Daniel Toomey is a constable in the Port Phillip District during the gold rush of the 1850s. His son, sixteen year old Patrick, his mother and four sisters, are victims of his drunken brutality until it ends when Patrick finally stands up to him.

Seamus is Patrick’s best friend and like a brother to him. They work together on the docks unloading cargo. When the tyrannical Daniel is killed, the Toomey family’s life takes a turn for the better.

Review: On the Way to Nana's

An adventure across the Kimberley is told in playful, rhyming language, counting down from 15 to one.

The long journey takes us from Broome, through Fitzroy Crossing and Halls Creek, to the tiny town of Wyndham, in the far north of Western Australia, where Nana lives. It's a trip of more than 1000km and one the authors know well, having driven it many times with their own children.

Their exciting travels across the striking landscape are beautifully captured in this simple counting story.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

12 Curly Questions with author Amanda Holohan

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
When I was a little kid I walked with my toes facing inward. 'Pigeon-toed', they called it. The doctors insisted I sleep with these ugly metal leg braces strapped to my calves every night for months. They looked like something out of a torture chamber. I wailed so much that eventually my parents stopped putting them on me. My mother booked me into ballet lessons. I was the clumsiest ballerina in the class, but pretty soon my feet straightened out all on their own.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Review: Bureau of Weights and Measures

We measure many things: quantity, height, weight, distance, and much more.

But how do we measure emotions? Can they even be measured?

In Bureau of Weights and Measures, a father who is an engineer determines he will find out. The story is told by his son.

The father, Marcel, works at the Bureau of Weights and Measures, and spends his days checking that measurements are correct.

Marcel has great belief in the importance of his job, as does his son. Nothing would make sense if measurements were incorrect. Imagine how much confusion there would be if weights and measures got mixed up.

Review: Why Can't I be a Dinosaur?

Nellie loves dinosaurs.

She loves dinosaurs so much she wants to wear her dinosaur costume to Aunt Daisy’s wedding.

Of course, Mum and Dad want her to wear her flower girl dress, so Nellie must try to convince her parents she absolutely needs to be a dinosaur.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Review: Further Adventures of Pelle No-Tail: Book 2


It’s spring. Dog violets, blue and white anemones and Star of Bethlehem are in bloom. Birgitta makes a posy for Pelle and clips it to his collar. The posy is all that the wicked cat Mans needs to stir up the cat gang against Pelle once more. His modus operandi is pretending to be friendly towards Pelle to draw him out.

Pelle, having lost his tail to a rat when he was a kitten, brushes aside the continuous ridicule the wicked trickster Mans metes out.

Now living in the city with a loving family and his adoring Birgitta, Pelle accepts what he can’t change, and confidently tries to get along with all the cats he meets.  He is optimistic and friendly, and interested in everything and everyone, regardless of their differences or peculiarities.

Review: Tarin of the Mammoths: The Exile

Tarin's twisted leg means he can never join his clan's hunting expeditions.

As he watches the men prepare a final trap before the winter snows, his unstable footing spooks their prey.

The whole community is in danger of starving as a result.

The clan is desperate to survive. Some want to exclude Tarin from their group as punishment. Others believe they must make offerings to the Earth Mother, who is angry with them.

Tarin offers to make the treacherous journey to appease Earth Mother. He might not survive but it is his clan's only hope. So begins an action-packed prehistoric epic for Middle Graders.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Terrific 10: Clever Interactive Books

These books all elicit enthusiastic participatory reactions from their readers. Some do it by addressing the reader and asking direct questions that need to be answered before the story can move on. Some do it by giving instructions and tasks that need to be followed. Others still have a combination of both techniques, however all of the listed titles achieve their interactive elements without the inclusion of flaps, pop ups or other amazing gimics. 

All in all, these books are irresistible to little hands and are guaranteed to be enthralling and exciting on each and every read.

Touch the Brightest Star by Christie Matheson, Harper Collins Publishers, $19.99, 9780062274472, 3-6

This is Not a Book by Jean Jullien, Phaidon, $14.95, 9780714871127, 2 - 100, KBR Review

The Odd One Out: A Spotting Book by Britta Teckentrup, Big Picture Press, $19.99, 9781848773516, 3-8, KBR Review

Do Not Open This Book by Andy Lee and Heath McKenzie, Lake Press, $19.99, 9781760451486, 3-10

Press Here by Herve Tullet, Allen & Unwin, $22.99, 9781742375281, 2-7

Tickle My Ears by Jorg Muhle, Gecko Press, $12.99, 9781776570768, 0 - 3, KBR Review

Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson, Harper Collins Publishers, $19.99, 9780062274458, 4-6

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems, Walker Books, $16.99, 9781844285136, 4-8

This Book Just Ate My Dog! by Richard Byrne, Oxford University Press, $17.95, 9780192737298, 3-8

Yuck! by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom, Frances Lincoln, $14.99, 9781845074234, 1+, KBR Review

Review: What the Ladybird Heard on Holiday

What the What the Ladybird Heard on Holiday is a new story in the series, What the Ladybird Heard, by Julia Donaldson, popular children's author of Room on the Broom, Zog, Cave Baby and more recently The Giant Jumperee.

What will the ladybird hear in this story?

Friday, 15 September 2017

Review: Smarty Pants! (The Tyler Files)

What would you do if your pants started talking to you?

This is exactly the problem Tyler faces in science class when his pants suddenly announce they can talk.

And Tyler’s pants have a lot to say. They also don’t like to be ignored, and they seem to have their own agenda, which isn’t always the same as Tyler’s.

Book one in The Tyler Files series, Smarty Pants! is a fun and funny story junior fiction readers will love. It’s a lovely easy read and it's filled with jokes, embarrassing moments and funny situations kids will find hilarious.

Review: Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library

Arturo Schomburg loved books. He loved them so much that he built a library.

It wasn't just any library, though. This was a library designed to teach people that 'black heritage knows know boundaries.'

Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library, shares Arturo Schomburg's story.

Each double-page spread highlights a particular milestone or achievement in his journey.

Arturo was born in Puerto Rico in 1874, and emigrated in 1891, settling in New York.

He was politically active, and worked in the community as a means of self-development and community empowerment. Arturo taught Spanish, learned English, and worked as a messenger and clerk at a law firm.

Arturo sought books to learn about his cultural heritage, and found there was no one book and no one library that held everything he wanted to know. He set about laying his hands on as many books, poems, letters, works of art and other items that captured the history he so desperately wanted to uncover.