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

Sunday, 4 December 2016

One Word with author Jen Storer

1. What is the best thing about being an author?

2. What’s the worst thing? 

3. How did writing the second book in the Danny Best series make you feel? Mischievous.

4. What do you hope it brings its readers?

5. What else do you like to do?

6. Who has influenced your writing the most? 

7. What has been your biggest career reward?

8. What is the most important contribution an author can make to the world?

9. What’s your biggest writing goal?


10. What’s next?


*Jen is super excited to be self-publishing an e-book next month. It’s called See Me Jump: 20 Things I’ve Learned About Writing Books for Children. It goes on sale at www.girlandduck.com on Friday 9 December 2016. Girl and Duck subscribers will soon receive a newsletter and a video about it, and Jen will also blog about it. Of course, it will be for sale to the general public, too.

Learn more about Jen's fabulous books at her website, and her Girl and Duck site is brilliant--you simply must!

Review: Architect Academy

Architect Academy is an excellent new activity book that, along with all the information and illustrations, includes stickers, a press-out model of a tower and a poster (with a board game on the other side).

After an introduction to six famous historical buildings (like the Parthenon and the Pyramids) and six famous modern buildings (like Paris’ Pompidou Centre and London’s Shard), it explains the process of design and construction. Learn about design briefs, floor plans, site plans and 3D models. Try drawing to scale and practice calculating measurements. There are also instructions for creating a perfect pyramid and your own bridge.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

KBR Recommends Great Reads for Christmas - Picture Books

The World Famous Book of Magical Numbers by Sarah Goodreau, Big Picture Press, $29.99, 9781783704644, ages 1 - 4, lift the flap

Mother Fox and Her Cubs by Amandine Momenceau, Thames & Hudson, $27.99, 9780500650899, ages 3 - 7, cut-out pages

The Hamster Book by Silvia Borando, Walker Books, $17.99, 9781406367720, ages 2 - 6, small format

Hello Little Babies by Alison Lester, ABC Books, $24.99, 9780733330414, ages 0 - 3

Dinosaur Dance by Sandra Boyton, Simon & Schuster, $9.99 board book, 9781481480994, ages 0 - 4

Dog on a Digger: The Tricky Incident by Kate Prendergast, Old Barn Books, $24.99, 9781910646144, ages 5+, wordless

Hilda and the Stone Forest (Book 5 of the Hildafolk series) by Luke Pearson, Flying Eye Books, $27.99, 9781909263741, ages 6+, graphic novel/comic

Rosie's Walk [40th Anniversary Edition] by Pat Hutchins, Red Fox, $17, 9781782956983, ages 3 - 7

Pig the Elf by Aaron Blabey, Scholastic, $16.99, 9781760154271, ages 2 - 8

When I Grow Up by Andrew Daddo and Jonathan Bentley, ABC Books, $14.99, 9780733333422, ages 3 - 6

I am a Story by Dan Yaccarino, HarperCollins, $24.99, 9780062411068, ages 3 - 7

Snow Bear by Tony Mitton and Alison Brown, Bloomsbury, $14.99 board book, 9781408873267, ages 0 - 3

Review: The AMAZING True Story of How Babies Are Made

I was genuinely excited to see a book on this topic that wasn't published in 1988, and this one lives up the the title as being truly amazing! While Where Did I Come From? has been an excellent go to resource for the past 27 years (!!!), it is a little outdated, and I'm not just talking about the illustration style.

While you may ask how a book on the subject of how babies are made can be outdated (well, I mean, we have, as a species, been successfully making babies for many centuries now!), there actually are some things that have changed. The Amazing True Story of How Babies Are Made has a section that discusses IVF conception (both the need for it and the process), and also discusses the concepts of egg and sperm donation.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Bookish Places: JM Barrie’s Birthplace

photos by 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!

JM Barrie’s Birthplace is a National Trust for Scotland property which you’ll find at 9 Brechin Road, Kirriemuir (be sure to check the opening hours before you make the trip as it’s not open all year round).

Kirriemuir is a rather picturesque town known as Scotland’s 'Gateway to the Glens', and JM Barrie’s Birthplace is a weaver’s cottage near the centre of town. Although he lived elsewhere for much of his life, he always had a strong connection to Kirriemuir, where his father was a weaver who worked from the family home. While it may look unassuming, it provides a fascinating peek into the life of the author who is now best known for writing Peter Pan.

Chief Minister's Reading Challenge

Ambassadors Tracey Hawkins, Tania McCartney, Irma Gold, Jack Heath, not present: Virginia Haussegger

On 30 November, 250 people descended on the National Library for the closing ceremony of the ACT's Chief Minister's Reading Challenge.

The Challenge was introduced in the ACT in 2004 to encourage students to increase their engagement with reading. To complete the Challenge, students from preschool to year 8 are required to read 15 books or more between February and September. These can be novels, non-fiction, poetry, or books in a language other than English. Alongside public and non-government schools, home and community language schools also participate in the Challenge.

2016 has been the most successful year of the Challenge, with 90 schools registering, and with over 31,000 students participating in total. Between May and September 2016, Ambassador reading sessions were held at Southern Cross Early Childhood Centre, Gold Creek School, Charles Weston School, St Mary McKillop College in Wanniassa, and Brindabella Christian College in Lyneham, with over 300 students participating.

An Awards Ceremony is held every year to celebrate the success of the Challenge and acknowledge the schools achieving the highest student completion rate that year. The 2016 Awards Ceremony had 48 schools attending. Winning schools were presented with certificates and book vouchers from sponsors, Paperchain Bookstore.

See here for more information on the Challenge and how you can get involved or start a similar initiative in your own state or territory.


Review: Exclamation Mark

I am of the not-so-quiet opinion that Amy Krouse Rosenthal (here with Tom Lichtenheld) can do no wrong.

Exclamation Mark is an adorable, clever, and satisfyingly minimalist story of an exclamation mark who stands out no matter what. Which makes sense, given that he is an exclamation mark among a group of full-stops.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Review: Squishy McFluff: Secret Santa

Oh how I love Squishy McFluff. I so want him as a pet, and I so wish I lived next door to Ava. She is just the coolest kid--high on imagination and shenanigans. The type of neighbour I would have loved as a kid (or maybe I was her??).

The fourth book in the series (of 6 so far), this early reader is another delight. Written in beautifully-constructed rhyme, we again go on a rollicking adventure with Ava and Squishy, her invisible cat (who, of course, is the cause of ALL that goes wrong).

Meet the Illustrator: Lesley McGee

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
Detailed, colourful and just a little quirky.

What items are an essential part of your creative space? Natural light, my amazing stand up/sit down desk, coffee and music.

Do you have a favourite artistic medium?
For years I worked primarily in oil and gouache, but since discovering polychromos pencils, I am addicted. I love combining mediums and often my work will be a mixture of pencil, gouache and coloured inks.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Farewell, Susan

It’s with much sadness that we announce the departure of our Managing Editor, Susan Whelan, who is leaving KBR to spend time with her family and hopefully write more of her fabulous books.

Susan has been with KBR since November 2011. You can see her very first review of Mr Darcy, right here.

In that time, she has risen up the ranks to become Managing Editor, taking care of all inquiries and scheduling reviews for our team, as well as writing her own reviews. She has also, among many other things, run giveaways, helped with our KBR Unpublished Manuscript Award, and come up with some glorious initiatives including our LoveOzYa posts.

Susan has been a phenomenal addition to KBR, and has shaped its direction for years. We are eternally grateful for all she’s brought to the site, and she will be missed.

We hope you join us in wishing Susan the very best on her new journey. We so value all she has done for KBR, and we so look forward to seeing her future books unfold. You can check out her website here.

Review: Ruby Red Shoes Goes to London

Oh, Ruby, you darling hare. How I adore your adventures. And even more so when you travel to one of my favourite cities on earth (thank you, Kate Knapp--how did you know??).

In this delightfully-penned tale, Ruby and her Babushka Galina Galushka, pack up and head to London on holidays.

Staying with Aunty pinky and cousins Samantha and Hugo, in their gorgeous townhouse, they take in the delights on English living, and begin to explore the city.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

KBR Recommends Great Reads for Christmas - Non-Fiction

How to Build a Billy Cart and Other Fun Stuff by Robert Palmer, Scholastic, $19.99, 9781743625743

Layer by Layer: Under the Sea by Anne Rooney and Suzanne Carpenter, Silver Dolphin Books, $39.99, 9781626867536, ages 5+ (other titles in the series also available)

365 Things to do with Lego Bricks, DK Books, $39.99, 9780241232378,
ages 7+

Dr Karl's Big Book of Amazing Animals, by Karl Kruszelnicki, Pan Macmillan, $19.99, 9781743547434, ages 6+

Meet the Flying Doctors by George Ivanoff and Ben Wood, Random House, $24.99, 9780143780687, ages 8+

Shakespeare: Investigate the Bard's Influence on Today's World by Andi Diehn and Samuel Carbaugh, Nomad Press, $39.99, 9781619304512, ages 12 - 15

Marvel Super Hero Encyclopedia, Scholastic, $39.99, 9781743811825, ages 8+

Smart Phone Movie Maker by Bryan Michael Stoller and Victor Beuren, Walker Books, $29.99, 9781406373035, ages 7+

Game On! 2017, Scholastic, $19.99, 9781338032727, ages 8 - 12