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

Monday, 20 January 2020

Winner: Kate DiCamillo Signed Prize Pack

And our VERY lucky winner is...

Miette Boan (aged 10)


You have won this sensational prize pack of Kate DiCamillo novels including:

· Raymie Nightingale

· Louisiana’s Way Home

· The Tale of Despereaux

· Because of Winn Dixie

· Flora and Ulysses

· The Magician’s Elephant

· The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

· The Tiger Risin

As well as an unsigned copy of Beverly, Right Here.

Your collection is on its way. We hope you get many enjoyable hours of reading from it

Thank you to ALL who entered. It was beyond super hard to pick a winner from the dozens of entries we received, however we enjoyed all of your answers.

For those who missed out, discover the next incredible title from Kate DiCamillo from our KBR review of Beverly, Right Here.

Review: Wolf Girl 1: Into the Wild; Wolf Girl 2: The Great Escape

An attack on Gwen’s town forces the family to pack what they can and set out in their car to escape the disaster. All the people of her town find themselves in the same situation. When a bomb falls, every one runs. Gwen finds herself separated from her family and alone in the forest of an unknown area. She is saved from drowning in a raging river by four dogs, who also are alone and homeless now. One of them is a wolf pup.

Although she finds her way back to the town, no one is there. Initially, whatever food she finds in the abandoned cars lined up on the main road, is used to keep herself and the dogs from starving. The family car becomes their shelter until she realises she must begin her search if she is to find her family.

She begins the greatest adventure of her life.

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Review: Our Planet: The One Place We All Call Home

Our Planet: The One Place We All Call Home is a gorgeous book about our world.

It's the official book to accompany a documentary series, and starts with a foreword by Sir David Attenborough, who describes it as containing 'tales of travel, detective stories, domestic dramas and much else.'

Our Planet is a large, foolscap format hardcover book, which allows it to do as much justice as possible to the artwork, which is a combination of photographs and illustrations.

The photographs, in particular, are stunning, from the beautiful polar bear striding out on the ice, to the green turtle swimming above a coral reef.

Our Planet is divided into seven habitats: frozen worlds, jungles, coastal seas, deserts and grasslands, high seas, fresh eater, and forests.

Following a world map over a double-page spread, each of the habitats and some of their important creatures and features are explained.

The jungle habitat includes information about zombie ants. Yes, they are a real thing. Zombie ants are found in the Amazon and after being drawn to a plant and biting it, die and become consumed by the plant before it attracts another ant.

The forest habitat describes some of the special trees that live in them, such as the redwoods in North America and the baobab tres that hold many litres of water. There's also the special tropical forest in Madagascar, home to animals found nowhere else in the world.

Each habitat also has a special page explaining how they are under threat, and ways we can help protect them.

At the back of Our Planet, you'll find further information about the urgency of looking after our planet, behind the scenes photos from the filming of the documentary series, and a glossary and index.

Our Planet is a book that can mesmerise you with the wonder of our natural world and deserves a place in homes everywhere.

As Sir David Attenborough concluded in his foreword: '[Y]ou will be among the next characters who can, if they wish, tell the most extraordinary story of all -- how human beings in the twenty-first century came to their senses and started to protect Planet Earth and all the other wonderful forms of life with which we share it.'

Title: Our Planet: The One Place We All Call Home
Author: Matt Whyman
Illustrator: Richard Jones
Publisher: Harper Collins, $ 29.99
Publication Date: December 2019
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9780008180317
For ages: 6+
Type: Junior non-fiction

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Review: Are You Watching?

Jessica Simmons is an internet star on a mission. She plans to be the one that solves her mother’s murder and capture the serial killer nicknamed the Magpie Man. Nearly 10 years ago, Jessica’s mother was only 51 seconds from home, when she was strangled to death – she was the first victim of this madman.

Jessica auditions for the reality YouTube show called The Eye. The premise of the show is each person selected will be live on camera from the moment they get up in the morning till midnight on the same day each week.

After convincing her father that if he lets her appear on the show, Jessica has a real shot at capturing the serial killer. Jessica then has to convince the school and her BFFs Hanna and Emily that this show will be a great opportunity for them all.

Review: Windcatcher: Migration of the Short-tailed Shearwater

Every April, thousands of short-tailed shearwaters, lift off from their colony on Griffiths Island, Victoria, to begin a 30 000 kilometre migration from Australia to the Arctic Circle. A month later, the young chicks also leave the colony and begin the same migration, facing many dangers to reach the Arctic Circle in June or July. By August, birds leave the northern feeding grounds and head for home, arriving back to the colony in September, where eggs are laid and the cycle continues.

Friday, 17 January 2020

Review: The Besties Show and Smell

The Besties are back!

Following The Besties to the Rescue, The Besties Show and Smell is a hilarious junior fiction novel about show and tell, outsmarting cranky teachers and armpit farts.

In this adventure, Ruby and Oliver are at school, and it’s Ruby’s turn for show and tell. 

She’s keen to sing a song and she’s looking forward to what classmate Zac will do, but when the relief teacher cancels show and tell, Ruby has to take things into her own hands (even if Oliver isn’t exactly happy about it).

Will Ruby get to perform her show and tell song? Or will the cranky relief teacher ruin the day?

This is a fantastic junior series for young readers starting to read independently. 

Guest Post: 5 Great Books for 10 Year Olds

10-years-old isn’t quite the age for someone to read life lesson-filled books. But it’s no longer the time when your child should only be reading vividly pictured books where visual imagery is accentuated over one’s own imagination.

Instead, this age when your child ought to read something more serious and perhaps even enlightening. You should nurture your child's ability to understand what they read, as well as gently give a direction to the development of their moral principles and their worldview.

It may seem that it’s pretty difficult to get a 10-year-old to read a novel, however, there are quite a few works out there that have the power to captivate the young reader while teaching them something new.

Below, I would like to introduce you to what I think are 5 great books and book series for 10 year-olds to read. Along the way, I'll try to give you an idea of why I think these literary pieces are great for kids.  I also strongly encourage that you do more in-depth research on your own to make sure that these works will indeed be appropriate for your child.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Review: Thank You, Omu!

An elderly lady, Omu, lives at the top of an apartment block in a busy street. She has made the most delicious stew and is looking forward to dinner. 

While the stew is simmering and Omu reads a book, the smell of the stew wafts and drifts out the door, down the hall, toward the street, and around the block

Soon people around the neighbourhood come knocking at her door asking after that scrumptious smell.

Each time Omu shares a little of her stew, but when it is time for dinner, her big fat pot is empty. 

When once more there is knocking at her door, she sighs and tells the gathered group there is nothing left to share. The most poignant part of the story is here when a little boy hugs Omu and explains what they’ve come to do. The book concludes with a shared feast leaving everyone full in the tummy as well as full of love.

The structure of the story and the repetition of language made it a pleasure to read.

The people who knock at Omu’s door represent a diverse community, which for me made the story all the more valuable. Throughout the book, the reader enjoys a wonderful sense of community, kindness and sharing.

I was immediately attracted to the beauty of this book. The collage work and colours are beautiful, and the seemingly simple textured shapes combine to form sophisticated illustrations.

The Author’s Note explains that in the Igbo language of Nigeria, 'Omu' means queen, while for the author as she was growing up,'Omu' was the word for grandmother.

This is Oge Mora’s debut book which she started as a student project at Design School in the USA. It went on to win the 2019 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, the John Steptoe Award for New Talent and the 2019 Ezra Jack Keats Award Illustrator Award as well as receiving a 2019 Caldecott Honor.

Title: Thank you, Omu!
Author/Illustrator: Oge Mora
Publisher: Little Brown and Company $29.90
Publication Date: 2 October 2018 
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9780316431248
For ages: 4+ 
Type: Picture Book 

Review: The Year We Fell From Space

Just because separation and divorce is so common in our society that it barely raises an eyebrow, it does not mean that children are equipped to deal with it. Family is messy, divorce is messier still. 

And the fall-out for children and young people can be devastating, particularly when depression and re-partnering are added to the mix.

Liberty is a precocious twelve-year-old girl who is trying to make sense of her life. She lives with her mother and sister. She has not spoken to her father for months, as he has cancelled all of their scheduled access visits at the last minute.

Liberty is obsessive about astronomy and developing her own constellations which are more meaningful to her than those that have been around for hundreds of years. 

But there’s only so much she can do about changing the universe to suit her –Liberty’s journey is about accepting what can’t be changed.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Review: Seek And Find Cities: A Globetrotting Adventure

Join intrepid travellers Cat and Bird as they take us on an adventure through popular cities across the world and on the ultimate treasure hunt.

As they visit each city, fun facts accompany iconic items that relate to the city or country. 

The reader’s job is to locate the items amongst the city scenes depicted in the book.

Review: Waiting for Wolf

Waiting for Wolf is a visually stunning, heart touching story of friendship, loss and acceptance.

Two friends, Fox and Wolf spend a glorious day together filled with play, swimming, talking and laughter. That night in an open but metaphoric conversation, Wolf tells Fox he’ll be gone soon and asks her to remember this day forever, Fox agrees, but doesn’t fully understand Wolf’s words; until the next night after a day of searching for her missing friend.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Review: Roly Poly

Roly Poly the polar bear is an only child. All the things he has belong to him. Especially his bed! He loves it that way.

Then along comes Monty. Now Roly Poly has a brother; a brother he didn’t ask for. Monty gets in Roly Poly’s way. He is ignored and resented.

It‘s when harsh words are spoken to Monty and an accident occurs, that Roly Poly is forced to rethink his attitude towards Monty. He has more to lose than gain.

Jane Dyer has created a wonderful character for Roly Poly. His negative emotions are recognised by the lifting of his nose in the air, the turn of his shoulder towards Monty, and how he strides away from his brother in anger.

This is a perfect depiction of how a child reacts when a sibling enters their space after they have been the only focus of the parents for some time.

Dyer has done a wonderful job translating Mem Fox’s minimal but meaningful text. White is the main colour and background feature throughout the book. It changes to blue when the accident occurs. This separates the former with the present actions and the outcome changes. I found this a clever way of creating the shift in the story.

Roly Poly is ideal for initiating conversation between parent and child when their behaviour changes due to the addition of a sibling. It is also a useful tool for preschool classrooms that choose to address any noticeable change of attitude in children due to a new born at home.

Title: Roly Poly
Author: Mem Fox
Illustrator: Jane Dyer
Publisher: Penguin Random House $19.99
Publication Date: 19 Nov 2019
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781760896348
For ages: 3+
Type: Picture Book