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

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

12 Curly Questions with author Lili Wilkinson

1.Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
It probably won’t surprise anyone to learn that I was a massive nerd in high school. HOW massive, though? Well, I was a member of the Red Dwarf fan club, and I wore a Star Trek pin on my school blazer. That massive.

2. What is your nickname?
I’m pretty un-nicknamable. In high school I got called Shakespeare for about a week after killing it in a debate. Some of my friends call me Lil.

3. What is your greatest fear?
It used to be vomit, but then I had a baby which pretty much took care of that. So now it’s edges. I do not like edges. Jetty. Cliff. Etc.

4. Describe your writing style in ten words.
Talking about big issues, but with funny bits and kissing.

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.
Productive. Succinct. Funny. Feminist. Improving.

6. What book character would you be, and why?
A mix of Anne Shirley, Hermione and Mia from The Princess Diaries. Dreamy, nerdy and a bit neurotic.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Review: The Iron Claw (The Warlock's Child #3)

The saga of The Warlock’s Child continues with the three dragons still asking questions about Dravaud’s death. Stormvaud has found evidence that someone is practicing the forbidden magic in the old prison castle.

Velza is drawn into the farcical role of a secret agent by Latsar, who uses Iron Claw, the name given to her by the seamen on the Invincible, to convince the king. Pressure is exerted on Velza to find her father Calbaras, and surrender him to the guards. But Calbaras has gone beyond the point of safety with the four magics. Dantar’s identical construction Avantar has been freed, and under Calbara’s spell is ready to move into his son’s body.

#LoveOzYA August Update with Trinity Doyle

Credit: Farrah Allen
To support the #LoveOzYA initiative, each month Kids' Book Review will ask an Australian YA author to share their favourite Australian young adult titles - what they are reading, what they've read and what books are on their TBR pile. We'll also include a list of Australian author YA new releases for the month. Our guest author for August is Trinity Doyle, author of Pieces of Sky.

What are you currently reading?
I just finished Tegan Bennett Daylight’s short story collection Six Bedrooms. A brilliant coming of age collection written with so much clarity and truth.

What are your recent OzYA favourites?
One True Thing by Nicole Hayes
The Guy, The Girl, The Artist and His Ex by Gabrielle Williams
Every Move by Ellie Marney

What 5 OzYA titles are currently in your TBR pile?
Risk by Fleur Ferris
In the Skin of a Monster by Kathryn Barker
Becoming Kirrali Lewis by Jane Harris
Inbetween Days by Vikki Wakefield
Cloudwish by Fiona Wood

What advice would you give to aspiring YA authors?
Write the story you love and not one you think will sell.

Can you tell us a little bit about your current writing project?
I’m currently working through a lot of stops and starts and trying to find the thing to take me forward. Working on being quiet and filling the well :)

Visit Trinity Doyle's website for more information about her books and author events.

August YA New Releases

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Review: Bush Rescue (Pup Patrol #2)

James Barnaby, Stamp his Border Collie, and Ace, a mongrel, are in the Fourby headed towards the town of Jasper. Without their knowing, they are headed towards more disruption and learning experiences. Ace is in a pet carrier, whining and driving everyone crazy with her complaining. On this trip she will advance in her attempt to fit in with the Barnaby family, when she proves valuable in a difficult situation.

James has bought a two-way radio to use in an emergency. Bush fires in the area put all the pets in danger. A Mitchell cockatoo flies in through their window and this leads them on their second adventure against the force of nature.

Review: Keeper of the Crystals Series

I was lucky enough to attend the launch for Book 1 in Jess Black's new adventure series, Keeper of the Crystals. So it was with an added sense of expectation that I sat down to read the first two titles. Written for children aged 7 and up, the stories focus on Eve and Oscar, two kids who are thrown together as playmates by virtue of being pretty much the only children in the town where Eve's grandmother lives.

In Book 1, Eve and the Runaway Unicorn, we get to know Eve and Oscar. They're your average kids: if you tell them absolutely, definitely not to do something, there's a strong chance they'll do it anyway!

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Review: Winter - A Pop-Up Book

David A Carter has long established himself as a creator of really beautiful pop-up books for little ones, and in Winter, he has created another little pocket of delight for kids to marvel over.

Featuring a simple, short narrative (making it ideal for the very young), the addition of scene labels (pond, farmhouse, animal tracks, snowflakes) make it a great way for toddlers to learn words by sight.

12 Curly Questions with James Moloney

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
My first publication wasn't a book but a computer game. This was back in the days when amateurs could still program the primitive computers of the day. It was a simulation game about farming which a lot of schools used for fun and learning.

2. What is your nickname?
I didn't merit a nickname as a kid. To all family and friends I am Jim, the official shortening of James. In my twenties, one friend began calling me Jimbo which I loathed. I no longer see him. These days, among some good friends who occasionally take me fishing I am nicknamed Jonah ie. someone they would like to throw overboard to improve their luck.

3. What is your greatest fear?
Making a fool of myself by what I do or say. Sadly, this is a fear of have to face all too often.

4. Describe your writing style in ten words.
Pursue a storyline until its characters emerge as fully human

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer. 
Plot-driven, pacy, thoughtful, honest, committed.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Review: Hector's Shell

Hector is a turtle. A turtle who has lost his precious shell!

Hector leaves his shell in a special place while exploring at the beach, but when he goes to put it back on, he finds the shell missing. If he goes home without his shell, Hector’s family will be upset, so he sets off to uncover it.

On his journey Hector crosses paths with a sunbathing whale, a rhino lifeguard, and a hermit crab. When he doesn’t find his shell, he tries making one, experimenting with different materials (newspaper definitely doesn’t work), then tests alternatives (including a jetpack!).

KBR Short Story: Jellybeans and Belly Feathers

by B L Draper

Jess slumped on the couch and stared at Gabby. He sat in his cage, preening his pink and grey belly feathers and ignoring her.

'Stupid galah. What’s the point of a pet bird anyway?'

She’d tried every opener she knew; hello, Polly want a cracker, who’s a pretty bird then? He refused to say a word. Gabby by name, but apparently not by nature.

Jess inherited Gabby when their neighbour, old Mister Silver, died. He didn’t have any family so the councilmen who cleared out his house had knocked on their door and asked if they wanted him.

Jess sighed and turned to stare out the window as she opened her packet of jellybeans. She pulled one out and popped it in her mouth. As she chewed a funny feeling crawled up the back of her neck, like being tickled by a feather. Turning around, she saw Gabby pressed up against the bars, staring at her.

'What? Don’t tell me you eat jellybeans?' Gabby’s head bobbed and his stare didn’t waver.

Jess stood up and moved closer to his cage. She pulled out a red jellybean and held it towards him. He didn’t move. Shrugging she popped it into her mouth.

'I guess you don’t like them after all.' She pulled out a second jellybean and Gabby gave a loud squawk.

Looking down she saw it was purple. She held it out and he gobbled it right from her fingers. Then he opened his beak and spoke.

'Squawk! If it’s treasure ye want then follow my trail. Up the hill behind …'

Jess waited. 'Up the hill behind what?' she asked. But the bird’s beak remained firmly shut. Quickly she fished through the packet for another purple jellybean. This one followed the first into the galah’s belly.

'… the museum, under the tree. A tree unlike the others, a --' Gabby stopped and cocked his head.

Jess thought quickly. There were all sorts of trees up on the hill behind the museum; eucalyptus, a mahogany or two and even a stand of bamboo. Impatiently she rustled through the bag for another purple jellybean. Panic started when she saw only reds and yellows and greens…but there, at the bottom. There was one left.

'They really need more purple ones,' she muttered as she held it out to Gabby.

'… mahogany tree, split in two by lightning. There be John Silver’s treasure.'

Jess’s mouth opened. Mister Silver was a pirate? The name fit but he didn’t have an eye patch or a wooden leg. She supposed a talking galah was as good as a parrot. She popped a yellow jellybean in her mouth and chewed as she began planning. She’d need a shovel to dig and a backpack to carry the treasure. These holidays might not be so boring after all.

Jess peered through the bars at Gabby, back to silently preening his belly feathers and wondered what other secrets he held. Next time she’d try a violet crumble.

B L Draper lives in northern Australia where she teaches children about our world by day and writes about other worlds by night. Online she can be found at her blog, Treekeeping.

KBR Short Stories are a way to get your work ‘out there’—and to delight our KBR readers. Stories are set to a monthly theme and entries are due in the 25th of each month. Find out more here.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Review: Mo and Beau

This playful exploration of big (and scary) and small (and cute) is lots of fun. Vanya Nastanlieva’s illustrations say so much that only a spartan few words are needed.

Beau the big bear is sleeping but Mo the tiny mouse wants to play. The two carry out the same actions but to very different effect.

Mo and Beau is a sweet, loveable tale for any time of day, but will send little ones to sleep with a smile on their faces.

Title: Mo and Beau
Author/Illustrator: Vanya Nastanlieva
Publisher: Simply Read Books $18.99 RRP
Publication Date: August 2014
Format: Hard Cover
ISBN: 9781927018637
For ages: 2 − 7
Type: Picture Book

Review: Maddie's Dream (Marguerite Henry's Ponies of Chincoteague #1)

Misty of Chincoteague is a classic of children's literature. Written by Marguerite Henry in 1947, it tells the story of a family raising the foal of a wild horse on a small island off the coast of Virginia in the US. It's still in print today, has inspired a movie, and was one of my favourite books as a child. It's also the inspiration behind this new series, which tells the stories of the descendants of Misty.

In the first book, we meet Cloudy and Maddie. Cloudy is owned by the Solano Stables, but Maddie feels like she's really her horse. She's the one who rides Cloudy most and she knows that they're the perfect riding combination. So when Cloudy's original owners return and want to buy her, Maddie is devastated. She can't lose Cloudy — especially not to a family who didn't treat her properly when they first owned her.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Event: Environment Award for Children's Literature Presentation Night

Last night in Melbourne, many of the Who’s Who in the Australian Children’s Book industry filled The Little Bookroom in Carlton, as Morris Gleitzman announced the winners of the Environment Award for Children’s Literature 2015.

The Environment Award for Children's Literature is the initiative of the The Wilderness Society, and the only environment themed award in Australia. Delivering his keynote speech with humour and insight, Morris Gleitzman suggested, “The wilderness is a vast… unchartered… scary adventure and for most children, being a child is to be in the wilderness but …perhaps our imaginations are the greatest wilderness of all.”

Praising bookshops, like The Little Bookroom, he went on to say, “Shops like this are full of flora and fauna of the wilderness and of the imagination and ….they have much to share with us, if we let them do the talking. So when awards are handed out by a wilderness society in a beautiful flora and fauna filled corner of our wilderness, to some of my colleagues who are very worthy recipients of this recognition… I’m delighted to be a part of this.”