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

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Review: At The Seaside

At the Seaside is a statement of a book. Standing 34cm high, this huge format board book is gloss, vim and vigour that makes you want to clutch at it, then stick it on a wall. Part painting, part children’s book, this may be a very simple book, but its essence is timeless.

Virtually wordless (there are a total of nine words and six of those are ‘Eric’), the book features a series of truly striking double-page spreads of one pretty sensational holiday experience. A beach, a beach hotel, some shops, a museum, a fun park, a camp… and all through these vignettes is a lone mum searching for her son – Eric.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Review: Moomin’s Little Book of Numbers

This cute board book is the perfect size for tiny hands. The book follows the adorable Finn Family Moomintrolls on a counting journey from one to ten.

In case you are not familiar with the Moomintrolls, they are smooth, round, hippo-like creatures, created by the Finnish writer and illustrator Tove Jansson (1914-2001).

The Moomins are carefree and curious little beings who like to spend their time looking for adventures and making friends. The main family of Moomins includes: Moomintroll, Moominmama and Moominpapa as well as a menagerie of quirky friends.

Events: July Holidays at The Children's Bookshop

In the Term 2, 2011 school holidays, The Children's Bookshop are pleased to announce a range of events including visiting authors and artists, reading and writing workshops. Writer in Residence, Oliver Phommavanh will be visiting, as well as Artist in Residence, Lisa Stewart.

Calling all future writers!
Author Oliver Phommavanh will be leading a writing workshop for students aged 8-12.

Participants in this workshop will be exploring the writing process, focusing on writing skills and gaining tips on developing plot, character and setting ! Activities will be hands-on and students will particularly gain insight into ways to improve writing skills.

When? Wednesday July 6th, 9-12-30pm, for Students Aged 9-12
Cost? $50 per student. All materials are provided. Book early!

Collage with Japanese Papers
Imaginations will run wild in this illustrating workshop with children’s illustrator, Lisa Stewart. The group will be using Washi (Japanese) papers combined with drawing to create original works of art!

When? Tuesday July 5th, 9-12-30pm For Ages 8-12

Cost? $50 per student. All materials are provided. Book early!

Dr Suess Workshop
Children in this workshop will share the adventures of The Cat in the Hat and other creations of Dr Seuss. Be prepared for stories, crafts and activities inspired by the works of Dr Seuss. And there is a prize for the best dressed Dr Seuss character in the workshop!

When? Friday July 8th, 9-11am For Children Ages 5-7

Cost? $30 per student. All materials provided. Book early!

Enquire at The Children’s Bookshop, 6 Hannah Street, Beecroft, tel: 9481 8811 or email staff@thechildrensbookshop.com.au

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Review: Scratch and Patch Series

Scratch and Patch is a new series of beginner books aimed at getting young boys excited about reading. They are specifically designed to appeal to younger boys, to help them embrace reading from an early age.

The two main characters are lovable and mischievous monsters who have grown up together.
The books are full of bright colours and each title is set at a different reading level so that the reader can progress and learn with each title.

lmnop Book Issue

The latest lmnop is out and it's an issue after our own heart - BOOKS! The mag is now by paid subscription only but it's worth every cent of the meagre $5.99 price. Enjoy every gorgeous drop.

Review: Harry and Hopper

Harry adores his dog Hopper. He has raised him since he was a pup and the reason he named his Hopper is because he's just as jumpy as a grasshopper. The two are best pals - and when Harry comes home from school one day to learn there has been a terrible accident... well...

May the eye-pricking tears begin.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Review: Ubby's Underdogs

"In the far north-west of Australia lies a dusty little pearling town where the people are as rugged and rough as the red-dirt country that surrounds them."

Set in Broome in the 1940s, just as the town's prosperity is fading, this dramatic tale tells of a young girl, Ubby, and the gang she leads.

Ubby is tough, tougher than most, and together with her gang she must face adventures and secrets and a world full of myths and legends - a complex collision of worlds and cultures that she has to weave her way around.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Review: Ayu and the Perfect Moon

Ayu, an elderly dance instructor, recalls her childhood dancing debut under a full moon in Bali.

As the traditional dancing career of a young Balinese girl is traced through Ayu’s eyes, different aspects of Balinese village life are revealed. Anticipation grows as Ayu is chosen to dance under the next full moon. People travel long distances to watch the classical Legong dance. Careful preparations are made.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Classic Tales from Child's Play

We love Child's Play here at KBR. Their books are so utterly-child centred, it boggles the eyes. I doubt there would be a single child that wouldn't want to dive headlong into their massive collection of superb books for little ones, from board books to big books, fiction to non-fiction.

One thing Child's Play do well (and extensively) are classic tales, fairytales and nursery rhymes - in all manner of formats, from board books to lift-the-flap and bathtime books. This collection of classic tales are in paperback form (but also come in other formats, including CD) and are just some of our favourites at KBR.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Grahame Baker-Smith wins Greenaway Medal

Today I received a very special email from one of KBR's favourite author/illustrators - Grahame Baker-Smith. In that email, he told me his book - FArTHER - again, one of KBR's favourites - has won the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal!

The Kate Greenaway Medal was established in 1955, for distinguished illustration in a book for children. It is named after the popular nineteenth century artist known for her fine children's illustrations and designs.

The award is presented annually for an outstanding book in terms of illustration for children and young people. The winner receives a golden medal and £500 worth of books to donate to a library of their choice.

We could not think of a more worthy winning book for the Greenaway and we are just thrilled for Grahame, who is not only just the loveliest guy, his talent really deserves this wonderful recognition. Congrats from your friends here in Aus, Grahame! and we look forward to watching your next book take the world by storm.

Read a wonderful interview with Grahame right here.

Review: Wolf Won't Bite

She's done it again. Emily Gravett's latest picture book is a hit, with kids requesting it over and over and over.

And over.

Three little circus pigs declare:

"Roll up! Roll up! Roll up! We have caught a wild wolf!"

And oh, the things they do with this wolf - from tying a bow around his neck, to lifting him in the air, from making him jump through hoops to shooting him from a cannon, and more. All with the knowledge that...

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Guest Post: Changing Yesterday with Sean McMullen

KBR is thrilled to welcome Science Fiction writer extraordinaire Sean McMullen with this fascinating insight into his latest book. We'd also like to congratulate Sean for his recent (and presitgious) nomination for a Hugo Award for his steampunk story, Eight Miles.

Changing Yesterday was inspired by a real-life experience. I was on a United Airlines flight returning to Australia during the S11 attacks, so terrorism was brought into pretty sharp focus for me by that.

A couple of years later, I was looking at a painting of the opening of the first Australian parliament, in the Melbourne Exhibition Buildings in 1901. I wondered how history might have changed if terrorists had bombed the building and brought the roof down with so many leaders and royals inside. The British would have been pretty annoyed, and I was sure that they would have at least declared war on someone.

Review: Puffling

These are some of my very favourite Julie Vivas illustrations... these gorgeous renditions of a baby puffin making his way in the world. Soft, evocative, sweet as icing sugar dusted on pastry, Vivas has beautifully captured this adorable Margaret Wild character.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Review: Bully Blocking

Children of all ages can be, and in many circumstances are, bullied by other children. This is a prevalent issue in modern society, and something that all parents need to be prepared for.

So, what do you do if your child is being taunted, teased or bullied? What do you do if you suspect or if you know that your child is the one doing the bullying?

Review: The Pout-Pout Fish


Kids love to join in with reading and the easiest way for them to get involved, is through repetition.

I am a sucker for a picture book that is written in rhyme. Words with a rhythm and beat. They are so fun to read a-loud.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Author/Publisher Interview: Jane Godwin

Jane Godwin is the Publisher of Books for Children and Young Adults at Penguin, as well as an author of many acclaimed novels and picture books. Jane joins us today to tell us how she came to hold two dream jobs.

You hold a much coveted day job – can you tell us how that came about? Well, I got my first job at Penguin way back in 1985 – eek! I was twenty one years old, had just graduated from university and had spent a few unhappy months working in the television industry. The position at Penguin was in the marketing department working with children’s books. After a year or so, Julie Watts (who was Publisher of Children’s Books at the time) asked me if I would be interested in a trainee editor’s position. I grabbed this opportunity and really that was beginning of my career as an editor, a publisher and a writer.

Review: Falling From Grace

When Grace falls off a cliff at Point Nepean, her sister Annie watches on helplessly as she tumbles into the water.

What now?

Annie and her parents are left not knowing what happened to Grace, or whether she will be found alive, waiting for news but losing hope at every passing minute. And all the while, Kip is slowly and unwittingly becoming more and more involved in their lives.

How will it all end?

Review: All Through The Year

"Open this book and travel your way all through the year and treasure each day."

Sigh. This book is truly beautiful.

This is a trip through one Australian family's whole year, month by month.

Review: Jessie and Mr Smith

This Aussie Bite for early readers teachers a number of valuable lessons whilst encouraging independent reading.

When Jessie finds a tortoise in her sandpit, she doesn’t know who it belongs to. There’s just one clue: some writing on the tortoise’s shell. ‘Mr Smith,’ it says, with a number underneath, ‘91201’.

What could it all mean? Whose tortoise is it and how will she find the owners?

Monday, 20 June 2011

Review: The Day I Turned Ten

It’s Jeremy’s 10th birthday and all he’s asked for is a watch. He’s just about poised to open an enormous gift (that doesn’t look much like a watch, alas) when little brother Oliver goes missing.

It’s probably cousin Rona May’s fault for leaving the front gate open when she arrived with her mum and dad, but whoever’s fault it is, the seriousness of Oliver’s absence – beyond ruining Jeremy’s birthday – becomes increasingly clear as The Day I Turned Ten unfolds.

Review: The Family Tree

This story of searching, self-discovery and identity, is beautiful and touching.

Everyone says that Harry is just like her dad. But he’s dead, and she never knew him. So where does that leave her?

Harry is almost eleven, and feeling lost. Her father died when she was little, her mother’s boyfriend and his son (also named Harry) have just moved in, things are changing at school – nothing is staying the same.

She must try to find herself amongst this confusing life, and work out if she really is Harry after all.

Review: Little Cat and the Big Red Bus

Oh my – talk about tear-jerking.

Little Cat riding on the big red bus sent me reeling back to childhood when my own father failed to collect me from preschool. I can still feel the heart wrenching terror as all the kids disappeared at the end of the day and I was left sitting with the teacher, the class cat leaping up to tug at my dangling shoelaces.

Fun Facts with author and publisher, Jane Godwin

1. My middle name is Kristina.

2. I was born with a piece of bone missing from my back.

3. When I was eight I ran through a glass door.

4. My second toes are longer than my first toes.

5. I have a Swedish ancestor who died falling down a mine shaft.

6. I can play the piano.

7. In 1985 I said that Thomas the Tank Engine would never take off (D’oh!)

8. I once took 22 children to the zoo and came back with 23.

9. I take a photograph every day of my life (you can see them on my blog)

10. I am terrible at housework (well, that’s probably quite an obvious fact to people who know me!)

Bibliography: Jane Godwin

Dreaming of Antarctica, 1997

Sebby, Stee, the Garbos and Me, 1998

The Family Tree, 1998

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Events: What's Coming Up at The Children's Bookshop

For lucky Sydneysiders, here's what's coming up at The Children’s Bookshop, 6 Hannah Street, Beecroft.

Tuesday 5 July
9am - 12.30pm
Holiday workshops with artist Lisa Stewart for kids aged 8 - 12

Saturday, 18 June 2011

let's save our bookstores

Modern technology and the internet is a wonderful, wonderful thing, but when it comes to books, there's nothing quite like a bricks and mortar bookshop.

The shelves piled high with teetering tales, the weight of a book in your hands... the sheen of the book covers, the smell of the paper, the smiling bookshop owners, impassioned by their own love of books.

Our bookstores are suffering, there's no question about it. We may be able to save a few dollars by clicking on an internet widget, but just as nothing will ever replace the cinema when it comes to the finest movie experience, nothing will replace a bookstore as a place to gather, to peruse and meander, to perhaps sip coffee and immerse ourselves in the printed word.

Review: When We Were Alone in the World

They say the most terrifying thing a child can experience is abandonment, and this poignant book by  Ulf Nilsson takes this concept and wraps it in a warm blanket of love and humour and touching narrative.

Our little six-year-old hero has learned to tell the time at school. Nine o’clock, ten o’clock, one o’clock, two o’clock. At three o’clock, when his Dad fails to pick up him at the school gate, he decides to wander home on his own (it’s only just down the road, after all).

Friday, 17 June 2011

Review: I Like Toys, I Like Peas

There's something to be said for beautifully-designed baby/toddler books. Why should kids miss out on stunning design just because they're little? Why foist upon their young eyes anything less than superb - yes, even at the tender age of under 1.

Our New Look at KBR!

Introducing our GORGEOUS new look for KBR! Thanks to the formidable talent of Brisbane-based designer and illustrator, Tina Snerling of Tiny Concept, we have the most stunning look ever. We hope you love it as much as we do.

Tina has had a long and fabulous career in design, from childrenswear to children's toys and books. She is the illustrator/designer for lifestyle book Handmade Living and is currently working with KBR's own Tania McCartney on a stunning children's book. We will be posting about the process of creating this book right here on KBR and we hope to have the final book to show you next year!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Review: The Lonely Hearts Club

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!

Ahem. Yes. I am a Beatles fan. That is what initially attracted me to this book but I was happy to learn that you don’t have to be one, to enjoy this book.

Penny Lane’s parents are both lifelong fanatics who met at a makeshift shine the night John Lennon was killed. It is only fitting that they name their three children after Beatles songs. Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, Lovey Rita and our narrator Penny Lane.

Review: Jackson’s Goal

Following in the footsteps of Jackson’s Footy, Jackson’s Goal is a charmingly Australian book that touches on a great Aussie tradition – Australian Rules football.

Young Jackson is footy-obsessed. He practices in the back yard all day long – taking marks, handballing, assessing the wind direction… all with a little bit of help from an unexpected source… Mum. She may be cooking dinner or doing the gardening, but Mum has one eye on Jackson’s progress as he works hard to make the team.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Guest Post: What makes a good children's book?

So, I was asking myself that question, "what makes a good children's book?"  And of course it depends on who is answering... the child or the parent.

Well, you should go to the ultimate source, so I asked the 5-year-old Pink Kid, "What's your favourite book?" Of course, I was hoping she'd say my own books Making Rainbows or Moon Ghostie Manners, but of course she didn't.  

Review: Elfrida

Originally published in Austria, this translation of Elfriede, and its splendiferous illustrations, is a joy to behold in English.

Elfrida the sheep wants to be different. She dreams of poodle haircuts in all manner of pouffy, coloured-tip delight. But can Rob the shearer, who is by no means a fancy stylist, achieve her greatest coiffed desire?

Yes. Yes he can. And not only that – he can achieve the very same for other rainbow-wool wannabes – and an unexpected client, too.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Review: Anna and the French Kiss

Anna and the French Kiss is a book I kept hearing about. There was great buzz, if you will. Before I read it I would have assumed that this book wasn’t really my cup of tea, as it YA Romance.

What is that saying about judging a book by its cover again? Well, I now think I shall have to say don’t judge a book by its genre as well as I absolutely loved this book.

Review: Chick ‘n’ Pug

I absolutely love the cover of Chick ‘n’ Pug – it’s one of those books I sat down and opened the moment it arrived – so anxious was I to dive inside and find out who on earth Chick and Pug are.

Well, they are a chick and a pug. Feisty little Chick is a super hero wannabe, after all, he’s read The Adventures of Wonder Pug 127 times! When Chick gets jack of his boring life in the coop, he heads off in search of wonderment – and comes across a real life wonder pug.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Review: No Bears

Ruby wants to tell a great story about wonderful things. She is also determined to exclude bears at all costs. She’s sick and tired of tales containing bears.

Ruby creates a beautiful princess living in a faraway castle with her parents. There’s a deep dark forest and a monster. What better story could there possibly be? Ruby is so busy saying there will be no bears that her story misses some very important details.

Review: Adelaide the Flying Kangaroo

Adelaide is a curious kangaroo. She is born with wings. Her parents don’t know why. Neither does Adelaide. What she does know is that she’s fascinated by aircraft and birds, and she dreams of flying, too.

So one day, Adelaide kisses her parents goodbye and off she goes. She flies away.

The pilot of the first plane she meets way up in the sky – is completely astonished. He lands with the kangaroo to a cheering crowd. No one has ever seen a flying kangaroo before! Adelaide and her friend the pilot fly all over the world before she settles on a life in Paris (as you do – or want to do).

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Review: Cooper's Pack Travel Guides

Oh my - sooooo cute! Introducing Cooper, the avid travelling pooch and his furry mates who join this black and white dog on his intrepid travels around the world.

This fuzzy voyager has a whole series of photographic 'guides' to some of the world's most desirable cities - right now kids can join Cooper to visit Alaska, Seattle, Paris, New York City and Amsterdam, and coming soon - Athens, Rome and Bangkok (and yes kids, I spoke with the publisher and they are planning a trip to Australia soon!).

ebook Review: Dr Seuss's ABC

I can still, to this day, recite from Dr Seuss's ABC. Mine was in the hardback paper version and three decades after reading the book myself, I was suddenly buying it for my own kids in board book form.

And now - here it is - the ebook form of this amazing children's classic.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Author Interview: Adam Wallace

We are delighted to welcome KBR friend and all round hilarious guy Adam Wallace with this enlightening interview in celebration of the release of his very first junior fiction book - The Incredible Journey of Pete McGee.

Who are you? Ah yes, the eternal question we spend our entire lives seeking the answer to … but it’s pretty easy really, I’m Adam Wallace!

Why are you here? So that I can answer these interview questions. If I was somewhere else I wouldn’t be able to because the internet on my phone isn’t working.

Where do you live and does it involve a submarine? Where’s Wally, hey? Well, it does not, I’m afraid, involve a submarine. It does, however, involve 12 cartons of bananas, a blender, and an armadillo. And all this in lovely Ivanhoe East!

PS: I don’t really have a blender.

KBR Recommends: New Junior Fiction for Girls, June 2011

The Magic Folk Collection by Enid Blyton
(Penguin, $14.95)
Ages 8 – 11

Three hidden gems from Enid Blyton are brought together in this one-stop tome. A must-have for any Blyton lover.

A Book of Pixie Stories
Some pixies are sweet and helpful, but some are lazy, and the naughty ones love to play tricks. In this book you will meet all sorts of pixies, so you will know what to do if ever you see one.

The Book of Fairies
Follow the adventures of Betty, the girl who doesn't believe in fairies (but soon changes her mind), Karin the shy gnome, and many more.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Review: 10

Graphic, creative, clever, stylish - all things that perfectly describe Marion Bataille's work. Super Hyper Brilliant Paper Engineer would be another description.

The creator of astonishing pop-up book ABC3D, this super simple, stark but mesmerising book features just 10 pages in pure black and white. As the reader turns each page, we count upwards through 10, but if we lift the flap on each page, we realise we are also counting backwards.

01 becomes 10.

2 becomes 9.

3 magically becomes 8.

Review: What is this Thing Called Love?

I'm one happy gal when a new Davide Cali book comes out and thankfully, I have Wilkins Farago to keep me in supply.

In this latest offering, Cali once again touches the heart strings whilst simultaneously gadding about with romping humour - and a cleverly honed level of perception that really gives the brain a workout.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Review: The Five Senses of Love

The Five Senses of Love is a gorgeous book. It shows love and representations of love through the five senses. Sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch.

“I can see love in Mum’s eyes, when she tells me the story of the night I was born.”

“I can hear love when my brother pushes me on my swing and the wind whistles past my ears.”

CYA Podcast Blog

A new site featuring book reviews by librarians has been launching by CYA. The CYA Podcast Blog features books chosen by the reviewers and will be discussed on the podcast. A new podcast is expected to be released bi-monthly. Audio will be downloadable from the website, and eventually on iTunes.

The podcast is funded by the Institute of Museums and Library Services through the Library Services Technology Act and is sponsored by the Oklahoma Department of Libraries.