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

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Bookish Places: Anne Frank House

Statue of Anne Frank, Amsterdam (Photo: 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!

On a street in Amsterdam stands a statue of a young girl. Her name is Anne Frank and she wanted to be a writer. She would probably have been astonished that with the posthumous publication of her diary, her writing has been read by millions of people and her story known all around the world.

Not far from the statue, on Prinsengracht 263-267, is Anne Frank House (Anne Frank Huis). Its entry is at Westermarkt 20, 1016 DK Amsterdam.

This is a museum and the actual place where Anne Frank lived hidden in isolation with her sister, parents, and another family for two years during World War II. They were Jewish and went into hiding in 1942, when Anne was thirteen years old. In August 1944 they were found and deported to a concentration camp, where all but Anne’s father died.

During her two years in hiding, Anne kept a diary which was later published as The Diary of a Young Girl, and as The Diary of Anne Frank.

Saturday, 19 September 2020

Giveaway: Remy Lai Double Book Pack: Pie In the Sky and Fly On The Wall

Remy Lai studied fine arts, with a major in painting and drawing. She was born in Indonesia, grew up in Singapore, and currently lives in Brisbane, Australia, where she writes and draws stories for kids with her two dogs by her side. She is the author of the critically-acclaimed Pie in the Sky and the stunning new, Fly on the Wall. In this moving and hilarious illustrated (by Lai) novel, a twelve-year-old boy goes on a (forbidden) solo journey halfway around the world to prove his independence to his overprotective family.

Remy Lai takes readers on an adventure filled with humour, heart, and hijinks that’s a sure bet for fans of Jerry Craft, Terri Libenson, and Shannon Hale! And thanks to Walker Books Australia, we are giving away both of her graphic novels!

For the chance to win this fantastic double book prize, in 25 words or less, tell us what was your favourite childhood adventure?

Review: Ten Sleepy Sheep

Ten Sleepy Sheep is an adorable board book set on a farm in the Australian bush.

Gently counting animals who are ready for bed down from ten sheep to one snuggly, sleepy joey, this new book from Renée Treml is as sweet as they come. Each spread features a group of gorgeous, very sleepy animals to count, including puppies, foals, calves, ducklings, lizards and more.

I adore the Australian farm themed illustrations, featuring delicately drawn line art of flora and fauna with soft pastel background colours, they set a dreamy sense of open space and rich night skies. 

Friday, 18 September 2020

Review: Piper Picks the Perfect Pet

Piper’s dilemma is which pet to choose. So many types of dogs: ones that prance, others that dance, one that is flouncy or another that’s bouncy. 

Or perhaps a cat? A tabby? A Persian? A Manx or Siamese? One that sleeps all day long, or the kind that are poetry in motion.

What about other pets? Small or large? A snake or donkey, an insect or fish? 

Should she choose a pet that will impress her friends? One that will win prizes?

How does one choose the perfect pet?

Review: Challenger Deep

Caden Bosch lives a double life – seemingly a normal adolescent boy, quirky, smart and fun, living in suburbia, juggling the demands of friends, schoolwork and leisure.

Yet he is simultaneously working as the artist in residence on board a ship with the mission to explore the deepest part of the ocean, the Challenger Deep part of the Marinas trench.

Caden had no memory of volunteering for this, and is at a loss to explain how he can be in two places at once. 

But he accepts it, and the reader is taken on his two concurrent journeys.

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Guest Post: Rebecca Higgie – Part Two

Here is Part Two of Rebecca Higgie's scintillating interview about her debut novel, The History of Mischief, winner of the inaugural Fogerty Literary Prize.

To me, this book is a profound exploration of human behaviour, weakness and strengths; how sacrifice is needed to protect those we love the most. How would you describe your novel? 
What a truly lovely description. You have really captured what I wanted to explore. I started with a desire to examine how we cope with grief and loss. This grew into an exploration of how grief is a shared human experience, something monumental that is present in the everyday, and how we can do terrible things when we fear or face loss. We can also do wonderful things, casting ourselves aside in an attempt to help others with their grief, as Kay does so much with Jessie. If I was to describe the book in a nutshell, I’d say it’s a novel about grief and the many stories we tell to protect ourselves and the ones we love. 

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Review: The History of Mischief

This magnificent and imaginative novel is the Fogarty Literary Award Winner. An historical journey through time, philosophers, paper cranes, origami and secrets, it explores human weaknesses and strengths through meaningful stories that link together.

Jessie has lost her parents in a car accident. She is now in the care of her older sister Kay. They have moved into their grandmother’s vacant house as she was placed in a home long ago.

In the corner of a room, Jessie finds the carpet torn. Beneath, the girls discover a metal box built into the floor. It hides an old book, The History of Mischief.

It contains a surprising and in-depth history of mischief and mischievous acts and their progression through time.

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Review: The Mummy Smugglers of Crumblin Castle

It is 1873. Twelve year old orphaned Hattie, moves from boarding school to the English Fens, to live with Great-aunt Iphigenia and Great-uncle Sisyphus Lambton at Crumblin Castle. It is literally, crumbling around them as repairs are undertaken only when money is available.

Both highly educated Egyptologists, Sisyphus translates manuscripts, while Iphigenia conducts mummy unwrapping events for the well-heeled members of society. Edwina and Edgar Raven who manage the business side of the Lambton’s work, also live at the castle.

The greatest surprise of all is the housekeeper, Sekhmet the cat and her five kitten helpers. Hattie feels that she has finally found a home.

Monday, 14 September 2020

Winner: Nature Storybooks: Kookaburra and Dry to Dry

Our lucky winner is...

Antonina Fieni, NSW


You have won a copy of each of the new Nature Storybooks picture books, Kookaburra and Dry to Dry.

In case you missed it, check out the amazing illustrator interview with Tannya Harricks via our Meet the Illustrator feature.

Thank you to ALL who entered. We learnt so many fascinating nature-inspired facts!

Guest Post: Rebecca Higgie – Part One

Rebecca Higgie’s debut novel, The History of Mischief is the inaugural winner of the 2019 Fogarty Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript. Released in September 2020, we congratulate Rebecca and invite her to share with us, some of her journey to publication.

Sunday, 13 September 2020

Review: My Best Friend, Sometimes

We all have best friends and like many friendships they have their ups and down depending on what is happening in our lives. 

The sheer joy of finding a person who thinks like us, to the anxiety of when the friendship falters for whatever reason.

This is the story of two inseparable friends who love to giggle, whisper and share outlandish secrets. But sometimes neither of the girls want to share or agree on the same game to play. 

The girls do not always like the same things and neither want to compromise.

Saturday, 12 September 2020

Review: Vote 4 Me

Just how do elections work? And what is preferential voting?

Read Vote 4 Me and you'll learn the answers to those questions.

Vote 4 Me takes place at Mount Mayhem School, where the kids have had enough of horrible uniforms and heaps of health food and having no sports equipment.

The kids and teachers decide there needs to be change, and change means electing student representatives.

Before they get started, Ms Sparks explains all about democracy.

Each of the students running for election think they'd be the best representative, and each have their own reasons for wanting to win.