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

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Review: Australian Kids Through the Years

I was fortunate to have wonderful history teachers, so I've always found learning about the past fascinating. Friends of mine were not so lucky, and years of memorising dates and dry facts at school have left them thinking history is 'B-O-R-I-N-G!'

If only they could have been introduced to Australia's past through a book like this one!

On the opening pages, we meet kids Kiah and Mandu, two of Australia's first inhabitants. In simple text and engaging illustrations we learn how they spend their days, what they eat, how they play. We're also shown their day-to-day tools (boomerangs, woven baskets, spears, stones for grinding). It's a snapshot of life as it was thousands of years ago.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Review: Our Big Blue Sofa

Jessy and Tom love their family's big blue sofa. One of these favourite things to do is bounce on said sofa, and--of course--mum and dad aren't happy about it, even though the kids are practicing for the Sofa Bouncing World Championships. Bouncing, therefore, simply must be done.

Of course, the big blue sofa is more than just a trampoline. It's also a big blue submarine (with the TV remote hidden at the bottom of the ocean) and a big blue hospital bed. It can even be a big hot air balloon, and quickly converts to a speedy taxi the moment tea's ready.

Event: Literary Dinner with author Libby Hathorn

Don't miss your chance to dine with one of Australia's most loved authors.

Do you love these books?

The Tram to Bondi Beach (1981), Looking Out for Sampson (1987), Way Home (1994), Over the Moon (2003), Fire Song (2009), Eventual Poppy Day (2015)

Come to a Literary Dinner and hear children's book author, Libby Hathorn, speak about sources of creativity in writing. Brought to you by the Children's Book Council of Australia ACT Branch.

When: 28 October 2015

Time: 6pm

Where: Ginseng @ Hellenic Club, Matilda Street, Woden, ACT

Cost: $40 CBCA members, $45 non-members

RSVP: 23 October 2015 Bookings are essential

For more information go to http://cbcaact.org.au/event_calendar/literary-dinner-libby-hathorn/

Certificate of Attendance will be available.

Harry Hartog Bookseller, Woden will be offering a range of Libby Hathorn's books for sale.

12 Curly Questions with author Dr Anita Heiss

image: Amanda James
KBR warmly welcomes our friend--talented and effervescent author and speaker, Anita Heiss!

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you. 
I drink out of the bottle sometimes when I am home alone. Naughty.

2. What is your nickname? 
Doc or Dr. Hot as 'Heiss' means hot in German.

3. What is your greatest fear? Rejection from those I love.

4. Describe your writing style in ten words. Focused. Planned. Structured. Researched. Caffeine-assisted (two words). Authentic. Conversational. Intentional. Incomplex.

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer. 
Authentic, fun, witty, motivated, passionate.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Review: Counting Lions

Counting Lions is a large book, and its ten charcoal illustrations are stunning. So realistic, and almost photographic. They are the work of Stephen Walton, a photographer and self-taught artist.

Starting with one lion, we count up to ten with gorillas, giraffes, penguins, Ethiopian wolves and other wild animals. The animals have been specially chosen because they are endangered.

Counting from one to ten with these “portraits from the wild” is accompanied by a series of “poetic text” by Katie Cotton, describing each of the species in their natural environment. For the turtles making their long journey, “The ways of the water are what they know, but soon their flippers will struggle in thick sand as they make painful progress to lay their precious eggs”.

Review: The Fly

The Fly is a pretty icky dude. He's just one of 100,000 species of fly (what the?) and he absolutely loves, more than anything else in the world, to eat garbage (what the!?).

Yes, that's right. He's that icky. And not only that--he can't ingest anything that isn't liquid. So he vomits on solid food to make it soft enough to slurp up.

Grossed out? So you should be!

This gorgeously produce, small format book carefully treads the line between utterly disgusting and adorably charming. Featuring a line-up of funny, endearing fly characters, who chat to each other via a series of speech bubbles, kids will learn some pretty fascinating (and gross!) facts about this pervasive insect.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Review: Sad, the Dog

A little dog is given as a gift to a couple who really aren’t interested in having a pet. They feed the dog and keep him clean, but they don’t play with him. They don’t even given him a name. The little dog names himself instead – Sad.

When the couple moves house without taking Sad along, it seems like the poor little dog is destined to remain uncared for and unloved. Is it possible for Sad to find a way to be happy?

WIN! Sad the Dog Book and Toy

Mr and Mrs Cripps feed their dog, wash him, and even clean inside his ears. But they don't give him a name. So the dog names himself - SAD. What will it take to make SAD, the dog, happy?

Sad, the Dog is the debut picture book by acclaimed Australian author Sandy Fussell, best known for her Samurai Kids series.

To celebrate the launch of Sad, the Dog, we are very excited to be offering not only a copy of this heartwarming book to one lucky reader, but also a Sad the Dog toy, knitted by the author. The toy is approximately 35cm tall and is pictured on the right in the photo below.

Links to other websites participating in the Sad, the Dog blog tour can be found at the end of this post.

Thanks to Sandy Fussell and the generous people at Walker Books, we have one copy of Sad, the Dog and a hand-knitted Sad toy to give away. The book is valued at $24.95 and the Sad toy is only available through author-sponsored giveaways.

To win, in 25 words or less, tell us your favourite way to spend time with your family pet.

Type ‘Sad the Dog’ into the subject line and email your answer to susanATkids-bookreviewDOTcom. The most creative answers, as judged by KBR, will win. Be sure to include your full name and address — entries without will be ineligible. Please provide a street address, as prizes cannot be delivered to PO Boxes.

Competition runs from Thursday, 1 October 2015, 1pm to Thursday, 8 October 2015, 1pm AEST, and the comp is open to residents of Australia, over the age of 18 (mum and dad can enter on behalf of kids). This is a game of skill, not chance. The judges' decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. Prizes cannot be delivered to PO Boxes. To be considered valid, entries must include a name and street address. Privacy statement: Winners' contact details are forwarded to the relevant publisher. Other contact details are not shared. All contact details are permanently deleted at competition end.

A touching look into the life of an unloved pet and the heart-warming journey towards finding your true home.

Sad, The Dog

by Sandy Fussell and illustrated by Tull Suwannakit.
Thursday 1st October, Kids' Book Review Friday 2nd October, Kirsty Eager's Blog Saturday 3rd October, Writing for Children Sunday 4th October, Sandy Fussell's Blog Monday 5th October, Susanne Gervay's Blog Tuesday 6th October, Boomerang Books Blog Wednesday 7th October, The Book Chook Thursday 8th October, Creative Kids Tales Friday 9th October, DeeScribe Writing Blog Saturday 10th October, Reading Upside Down Sunday 11th October, Sandy Fussell's Blog

Blog Tour: The Story Behind 'Sad, the Dog'

Kids' Book Review is delighted to welcome author Sandy Fussell as she celebrates the release of her first picture book, Sad, the Dog. Read on to learn about Sandy's inspiration for writing this heartwarming story. You can follow the Sad, the Dog blog tour via the links at the end of this post.

All of the characters in my novels are fictional. Sad is the only character I’ve known in real life. He lived next door to me for many years.

Or I should say, she lived next door to me because while Sad, the Dog is closely based on a true story, there have been many tweaks and twists along the way. Sad’s real name was Cassie and he was a girl.

The first two lines are the only part of the story I fabricated. Cassie wasn’t an unwanted Christmas gift. Her owners had family troubles. While Cassie was well looked after, no-one had any time to love her; exactly what can happen when a pet is given as an unexpected present.

My back deck looks into the yard next door, and I’d see Cassie lying there. She was a spaniel-type dog with blotchy black-grey fur, long dangly ears and deep, dark eyes. The sort of eyes that are full of expression and I thought they looked sad.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Review: Kerenza - A New Australian

Kerenza isn’t happy about leaving her home in Cornwall and emigrating to Australia. Her parents tell her that Australia offers potential for a much better life, but Kerenza isn’t so sure. Moving to Australia means a perilous sea journey and leaving behind everything that is familiar and dear, including her older sister and grandmother.

Australia seems so vast and strange when Kerenza and her family arrive. Everything is different and the wonderful future they imagine is only possible if they are willing to work hard to clear land and build everything they need. Everything about their daily life is challenging and Kerenza is sure that the Mallee will never feel like home.

Review: I Wish You More

What do you wish for your most beloved one?

You might wish them more ups than downs. More give than take. More hugs than ughs.

You might wish them more will than hill. More pause than fast-forward, more umbrella than rain.

You might even wish them more treasure than pockets.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Review: Butterfly Park

It’s hard to adjust to a new place, especially when it is devoid of the things you love—like birds and butterflies. Butterfly Park is a simply written tale that shows how adjusting to a new place involves so much more than get used to a different landscape.

By connecting with her neighbours, this little girl, who longs for the butterflies she left behind, finds so much more.