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

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Review: Captain Cat and the Treasure Map

Patch is a courageous pirate cat that lives on board The Golden Earring with his friends, Monty the monkey and Cutlass a green parrot and talented joke-maker. 

They communicate well between themselves. The rest of the crew, Ginger, the lookout in the crow’s nest, Butch who steers the ship, the one-legged Captain Halibut, and Cannonball the cook, can’t understand them. This sometimes creates a problem with communication.

When Ginger falls overboard, the three friends try to get the others’ attention in vain. They help pull Ginger out with a friendly helping hoist from a mermaid. Ginger comes up clutching a bottle with a message in it.

Look What I'm Reading! Zoe Bechara Publicity Manager

Zoe Bechara is a Publicity Manager for Young Readers at Penguin Random House, based in Sydney. She has worked in publishing for a decade. As a publicist for some of Australia’s most celebrated and emerging authors she is frequently on the road: rattling about in radio or TV studios, wrangling pull-up banners and filing young children into signing queues at events. She loves big newspapers and small coffees and thinks that small humans are usually the best kind of humans.

Which children’s book are you currently reading?
A book by debut children’s author Nat Amoore called Secrets of a Schoolyard Millionaire (out June.)

Can you tell us in two sentences what the book is about?
It follows two best friends who find a million dollars in the backyard, and all the trouble they get themselves into. 

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Review: Stepsister

We all know Cinderella and her happy ever after story, but what about her step sisters Isabelle and Octavia? 

Jennifer Donnelly’s novel explores the youngest step sister Isabelle’s story. Raising the question of what happens when the bullies become the victims, can mean girls really change?

A gorgeous man known as Chance visits the Three 
Fates to make a deal on a certain map he has discovered. 

This map outlines a person’s fate, their destiny and the choices that can lead to a better life or result in disastrous consequences.

The map Chance holds belongs to a plain, selfish, mean and uninteresting girl – Isabelle de la Paume. 

12 Curly Questions with author Stef Gemmill

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
I used to be a Montessori teacher by day and a music journalist by night at heavy rock and metal gigs for music magazines. Both experiences bring a lot to my writing for children now and I had a lot of fun in both jobs.

2. What is your nickname?
Everyone calls me Stef, except I am Stephanie to my Mum (particularly when I’m in trouble).

Monday, 19 August 2019

10 Reasons to Visit Story Time: Australian Children's Literature Exhibition - with Dr Belle Alderman AM

Design adapted from: Koala Shape Book, (Sydney: John Sands Ltd., 1931) nla.cat-vn4272738

KBR warmly welcomes Dr Belle Alderman AM, Director of the National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature with this guest post on the incredibly wonderful upcoming children's literature exhibition at the National Library of Australia. Here are 10 reasons why you simply cannot miss this stunning, extensive (free!) exhibition. For more on the exhibition and how to plan your visit, see here.

The National Library of Australia and the National Centre for Australia Inc have collaborated to bring you Story Time: Australian Children’s Literature at the National Library from 22 August 2019 - 9 February 2020. Here is your unique opportunity to enjoy almost 200 years of stories for children and the young at heart. Story Time: Australian Children’s Literature  offers many associated programs for adults all described on the National Library of Australia and the National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature Inc websites. 

1.What are two very rare items?
A Mother’s Offering to Her Children published in 1841, featuring a child’s name neatly handwritten and coloured in opposite the title page, also coloured in!

Book List: Superheroes Picture Books

Superpowers may be obvious, or hidden to all but those who really need them. Superheroes come in many forms and eveyone has their own special talents.

My Superhero by Chris Owen and illustrated by Moira Court, Freemantle Press, $16.99, 9781925161212.

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Review: Cryptosight

Ever heard of tales of panthers lurking in Victoria’s high country? 

Of sightings of bizarre creatures in difficult to reach landscapes? Of bunyips and river monsters? 

Well, this novel by debut author Nean McKenzie takes all of these urban (rural?) myths and tells a rollicking tale set throughout Victoria.

Raf and Zara’s dad is a cryptozoologist – a person who tracks animals that science does not believe exists. 

With the power of cryptosight, these creatures can be seen. Zara believes her dad’s tales and has some degree of crytosight. Raf doesn’t. He believes in empirical science and that both cryptozoology and cryptosight are all a load of rubbish.

Review: Little Mouse's Holiday

This divine little book will be an immediate hit with very young children. The characters are two mice – Mummy Mouse and Little Mouse. 

They set out on the train to pick berries in the country. It becomes a journey of learning and discovery for Little Mouse.

A page of full colour, labelled items appear as they pack their bags. Little Mouse is taking too many toys with him.  He can’t decide so Mummy decides for him. 

A detailed double spread shows them setting out on one page and in the railway station on the other. These items and settings are opportunities to increase knowledge and language.

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Giveaway: Noodle Bear

Noodle Bear, the new picture book by Mark Gravas, is a hilarious story about a bear who becomes obsessed with noodles, and ultimately is a tale of friendship and discovering what’s truly important in life, on a journey to noodle-filled fame, and then back home again.

Noodle Bear is crazy about noodles. His best friend, Fox, brings him other delicious treats when he's a no-show at her party but he's so noodle obsessed that doesn't he notice them. And when he's run out of noodles, his only thought is to go to the big city and become a contestant on the TV game show, "Noodle Knockout". Of course, he becomes a surprise star with more noodles than he can eat. But no amount of noodles and fame can fill the empty space where home and friends should be.

Thanks to the delicious people at Walker Books Australia, we have three copies of this brilliant book to give away!

To enter, simply tell us in 25 words or less if you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

Review: Just Breathe

In Andrew Daddo’s brilliant novel of youth, its sorrows and its awakenings, the two main characters stand out like beacons in the dark.

It opens with separate chapters that introduce Emily and Hendrix - called Drix for short, and a view into their family lives and backgrounds. The two characters come together and it is around them that the story is built.

Drix is a sixteen year old boy living with his father, a control freak who has designed his son’s running career in minute detail with a goal to win the Nationals. 

Every free moment, what he eats, when he sleeps, how he trains, and every other detail of his life is listed for Drix to follow. The boy has followed this regime diligently without question until he meets Emily and everything changes.

Friday, 16 August 2019

Review: Argh! There's a skeleton inside you!

Argh! There's a skeleton inside you! explores the story of Quog (an arm-less blob) and Oort (a gas cloud). These two aliens are attempting to get to a birthday party - if only they could get out of their spaceship! They decide what they really need is a hand, but neither of them have one.

So begins a hilarious narrative about their attempts to grow a hand, with a whole lot of non-fiction information thrown in.

This book, by Idan Ben-Barak and Julian Frost, who also brought us the hilarious Do Not Lick This Book (It's full of germs), is fast-paced, funny and factual - and this makes for a perfect combination!

Review: Vincent and the Grandest Hotel on Earth

Things aren’t going great for 11-year-old Vincent.

He lives in a smelly town (quite literally — it stinks like cat food), his parents are consumed and distracted by his misunderstood baby brother Thom, and his grandfather recently passed away.

But, sometimes, sad things are the start of something amazing. 

When Vincent finds out his grandfather has left him his shoe-shining kit, Vincent heads straight to the train station to set up shop in the hope of earning enough for a delicious snack. 

What he gets instead is a job proposal — an opportunity to work at the mysterious and wondrous Grandest Hotel on Earth, which happens to be located up, up, up in the mountains, just outside of town.