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

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

National Simultaneous Storytime 2015 - Aaron Blabey's The Brothers Quibble

It’s 11am and National Simultaneous Storytime 2015 is about to begin. Are you ready to enjoy Aaron Blabey’s The Brothers Quibble with a group of enthusiastic young readers? Are you poised to open the covers and share this picture book with your own child? Do you have some fun The Brothers Quibble inspired activities to enjoy once the story is over?


Don’t despair. It’s not too late for you to join in this national celebration of reading. Thanks to the wonderful people at Story Box Library, you can cuddle up with your kids and listen to Aaron Blabey read the story himself.

In partnership with ALIA, Story Box library has made their video of Aaron Blabey reading The Brothers Quibble available for a short time so that everyone can enjoy it. They have also listed a range of classroom ideas and activities that you can use in conjunction with the story.

National Simultaneous Storytime is an annual national campaign that encourages young children to read and enjoy books. Events are held in schools, preschools, libraries, play groups and homes around the country. This wonderful event is now in its 15th year and it continues to grow in popularity.

This year, Aaron Blabey’s The Brothers Quibble is the official NSS picture book and Aaron will be joining in the NSS2015 fun by reading the story with children at the Royal Children’s Hospital.

It’s 11am. On you marks. Get set. READ!

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

KBR Short Story: July Challenge

As part of our Literary Hub initiative, KBR invites writers to submit creative short stories aimed at children aged 4 to 10.

Each month we offer a short story theme and challenge you to submit an amazing, creative story of 500 words or less based on that theme. The best stories will be published at Kids’ Book Review each Friday morning.

That's right. We want your short stories to share with our KBR readers, who just happen to include a rather impressive array of children's book industry professionals, from Australia and around the world.

Want your work to fall under the watchful eyes of publishers?

July submissions now open!

The theme for July is Purple.

Closing date for July submissions is 25th June 2015. Full submission details can be found here.

Purple story submissions can be emailed to sarah(AT)kids-bookreview(DOT)com.

So, what are you waiting for? The July challenge is out there and we're looking forward to reading your stories!

Review: A King in Hiding

At eight years of age, Fahim becomes a kidnapping target in Bangladesh because he is good at chess: too good. In this world where being noticed puts your life in danger, Fahim’s father decides he must whisk his son to safety. This means leaving family, friends, everything behind. Indefinitely. Imagine being forced to flee your country because you are good at something!

Speaking only Bengali, Fahim and his father struggle to communicate their plight. They are constantly waiting—to hear if their visa is accepted, to find out where they must move next, for news of home.

12 Curly Questions with author Renee Price

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
I’m the ‘Renee’ Rick Price sang about. Well, not really… but I did see him walking his dog down the street once!

In honesty, it’s a life-long dream of mine to become a presenter on Play School (not many people outside my family know that).

2. What is your nickname?
I have several! There’s Nee Nee or Nee, Pricey, Midge, Mini, Shorty (sense a common theme happening, here?!) One of my primary school teachers called me, ‘Half’. He thought he was pretty clever, coming up with that one.

3. What is your greatest fear?
Being alone in the house at night… Creeps me right out!

4. Describe your writing style in ten words.
Imaginative, humorous, colourful and quirky, that invites exploration and investigation.

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.
Observant, eager, committed, evolving, fun.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Hippopotamusing with Hazel Edwards

Hazel Edwards with her hippo friend
KBR Consultant Librarian Sarah Steed attended Hazel Edwards' 'Hippopotamusing' event at the Lu Rees Archives recently. For those who couldn't get there, here are some of the highlights.

“Writing is not a piece of cake,” the always entertaining Hazel Edwards told an eager group of readers in Canberra on 22 May. Hippopotamusing was a special event for the Lu Rees Archives, to give a sneak peek at what we can expect from Hazel’s forthcoming memoir, Not Just a Piece of Cake.

“No one’s really boring. You just have to ask the right questions.”

The title of Hazel’s talk, and of the memoir, relate to one of her best known books, There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake, and Hazel brought with her the large pink hippo that has accompanied her on many occasions, and has many stories to tell. And in case you ever need to clean a hippo like this, the secret is to use Napisan!

“Food is the sex of children’s books.”

Hazel shared with the audience some of the memories which have been an important part of the writing of Not Just a Piece of Cake. She also explained a little of her approach to writing, describing herself as an ideas addict - quite appropriate for an author, really, although it might mean too many ideas sometimes.

Guest Post: Samantha Turnbull on Books for Boys and Books for Girls

Kids' Book Review is delighted to welcome Samantha Turnbull, author of The Anti-Princess Club series. Samantha shares how her frustration with 'books for boys' and 'books for girls' inspired her write her popular junior fiction series.

“Urgh, princess books!”

A nine-year-old boy screwed up his nose as he walked into the library and spied a poster for The Anti-Princess Club.

“They’re not princess books,” I said. “They’re anti-princess books. Do you know what it means to be ‘anti’ something?”

The boy crossed his arms and frowned.

“Yeah, but they have girls on them,” he said. “So, they’re girls’ books.”

I crossed my arms and frowned back at him. I needed to talk him around.

If it were only girls that read my books, it would defeat the purpose of why I wrote them.

You see, I wrote The Anti-Princess Club because I was sick of girls being boxed into pink, prissy, princess-loving stereotypes.

It happened to my daughter from day dot.

She was given princess outfits, princess books, princess toys, before she’d even left the hospital where she was born.

And when I couldn’t find a single book ‘for girls’ in a local department store when she was a baby, I knew I had to do something about it.

So, I wrote The Anti-Princess Club.

It features four best friends who aren’t ‘stereotypical girls’ at all. In fact, their talents and passions have been more commonly associated with boys in the past – things like building, sport, science and maths.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Review: Farm Rescue (Pup Patrol #1)

Pup Patrol is a new series built around working dogs; their role, and relationships with their human partners. The dogs are personified and it’s through the point of view of Stamp, a Border Collie and part of the Pup Patrol, that we hear the story.

Stamp and James Barnaby his mate (not called his owner) have been out camping in their 4WD. After three days of steady rain, and with the river nearby close to flooding, they decide to pull into the nearest farm and ‘sleep dry’, while offering help to farmer Glen in return. Stamp is disgruntled at having to sleep in the barn, so James joins him. They have issues to sort out.

Review: Sun and Moon

Sun and Moon have held their respective places in the sky for years. Sun looks after the day. Moon looks after the night. But Moon thinks the night is boring — everyone's asleep, nothing happens. He begs Sun to swap places with him for just one night.

Sun is very wise. He agrees to swap with Moon, but on two conditions:
1. If the swap goes ahead, it will be permanent, not just for one night.
2. Before Moon decides whether he really does want to swap places, he must spend one night looking very closely at the Earth, closer than he's ever looked before.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Review: Fish Jam

Meet one little jazzy scat-singing, be-bopping fish who has trouble finding a friend to play with in the wide blue sea. Toot is a little noisy. No, make that very noisy! All he wants to do is sing, but the other animals in the ocean keep telling him to be quiet. They constantly ‘shhh’ him and ‘shoo’ him.

Then one day, something unexpectedly happens.  Toot is swallowed by a whale! To Toot’s surprise, he discovers a full jazz band inside the whale’s belly! Toot not only finds a belly full of friends but he quickly joins the ready-made band, and Toot never has to scat alone again.

12 Curly Questions with author and illustrator Elizabeth Honey

1. Can you tell us something hardly anyone knows about you?
I have a potter’s thumb. The middle joint can bendbackwards towards the palm of my hand. It looks weird and is a handy trick.

2. Do you have a nickname and if so, what is it?
Right now I’m being called Betta, which I enjoy. It’s Italian for Elizabeth.

3. What is your greatest fear?
An engulfing war

4. Can you describe your writing style for us in ten words?
I try to be original, story-based, Australian, funny and poetic.

5. Can you give us five positive words that describe you as a writer?
Curious, determined, inventive, haphazard, lucky

6. What book character would you be, and why?
Pipi Longstocking because she is in control of her own life and has a monkey and a horse.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Review: Polar Bear's Underwear

Titter! Polar Bear has lost his underwear!

His friend mouse is going to help him look for it.

As they begin looking, a series of different patterns and sizes of underwear appear through a peek hole, and when the page is turned, another animal, resplendent in their undergarments, is revealed.

But can Polar Bear find his own knick-knicks?

KBR Short Story: Ninja Gran

by Jade Harmer

I got nervous when Gran's fingers twitched.

Nervous for Toby Treloar who was threatening to toss my ball into the creek.

“I wouldn't do that if I were you,” I said.

“And whatcha gonna do about it?” taunted Toby.

Oh well, can't say I didn't warn him...

“Toby, let me introduce my Gran. Gran, this is Toby.” Gran licked her lips and I rolled my eyes.

Toby looked at me like I was from outer space. “Why would I wanna meet yer Gran?” he sniggered, twirling my ball on his sausage-shaped finger.

His goons fell about laughing.

“Would you like to give the ball back, sonny?” Gran asked.

Toby roared with laughter.

And that's when Gran, fast as lightning, jumped up onto her frame, balanced on one foot and pointed the other squarely at Toby, the toe of her Hush Puppy just a centimetre from his crooked nose.

His goons took a step back.

“Pleasure to meet you Toby,” Gran said, eyes threatening as darts. “Always nice to meet a friend of Charlie's. Now how about you give his ball back. I've got a pot roast in the oven.”

“Where's the camera?” Toby looked around helplessly. “Yer just an old lady!”

Gran launched herself into the air and spun so quickly that she blew Toby Treloar and his goons into the creek.

My ball flew from his sausage-shaped finger into my arms. Gran raised an eyebrow in my direction as Toby and his goons stumbled about in the creek bed.

“See you tomorrow, Toby,” Gran smiled, landing a spectacular backward somersault with a twist. In a split second she was back in her familiar Gran-like position, shuffling her frame along the path that followed the creek home.

“Gran,” I asked. “When do you think I'll start getting Ninja skills?” I’d always known they ran in the family.

“Well I was a late bloomer, Charlie, but I have a feeling you might already have some.”

“You do?” I asked.

“I think you might be a Wish Ninja,” she whispered.

“OK, sure Gran,” I laughed, but I couldn't help being just a little bit curious. “What's a Wish Ninja?”

Gran’s smile widened. “It's the most powerful type of Ninja,” she explained. “A Wish Ninja can make things happen just by wishing them. You made your ball fly from that boy's finger into your arms,” she said.

I thought about that for a minute. I may have wished the ball to come to me, but I was no Wish Ninja. I wasn't even a Regular Ninja. Not yet anyway.

“Pot roast smells good,” I said when we got to Gran’s. I was starving and I wished I could eat it whole.

Gran smiled and checked the oven only to find an empty pot. She stared at me, her eyes round like saucers.

“Gran, do Wish Ninjas have big appetites?” I asked sheepishly.

“I daresay they do, Charlie,” she grinned, prodding my belly in disbelief, “I daresay they do!”

Jade lives in the Adelaide Hills with her husband and their three children, the resident koalas, kangaroos and echidna. She works in marketing communications and spends her spare time devising quirky picture book stories. Her dream is to see one of her manuscripts picked up by a publisher and turned into a beautiful picture book, then maybe another, and another, and another… If only she were a Wish Ninja! Visit Jade's blog to find out more about her creative pursuits.

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.