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

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Review: Daddies

Lilijana Praprotnik Zupanic, aka Lila Prap, is an award winning Slovenian author/illustrator whose popularity is increasing around the world. She has a passion for drawing animals and this book is full of them.

The book has a nice rhythm punctuated with fun animal noises, which makes for a charming bedtime story. It follows a little boy and his daddy as they explore the relationships between fathers and sons of the animal world.

Review: Why I Love My Daddy

Do you remember the world through your eyes as a child? Things were so black and white weren’t they? Your family were your whole universe. Do you remember looking (up) at your dad and thinking he was a super hero? I do. Actually, I still think my dad is a bit of a super hero.

Featured Father: George Ivanoff

Happy father's day, George! 

Who are you?
George Ivanoff

What do you do?
I’m an author, mostly writing books for kids and teens.

How many kids do you have? I have two daughters — Nykita is eight and Alexandra is two and a half.

What kind of Dad are you? The stay-at-home kind. My wife is a full-time graphic designer. So I’m at home with the kids and I work my writing career around their schedules... and believe me, they have much busier social schedules than me!

What do your kids call you? ‘Hey you!’ No, just kidding. Mostly ‘Dad’ or ‘Daddy’. Although my youngest has recently been referring to me as ‘Daddy, my George’.

What do you like most about being a Dad? Spending time with my daughters and watching them grow. It has been a particular joy watching Nykita’s developing interest in reading and writing. She devours books at an astonishing rate. Although Alexandra can’t red yet, she loves being read to and spends ages flipping through the pages of picture books.

What is your favourite book about Dads? Guess How Much I Love You, written by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram.

Can you tell us the name of your latest book? Is it good for Dads?
My latest book is Gamers’ Challenge, a sequel to my teen, sci-fi, computer-gaming, action/adventure novel, Gamers’ Quest. I wrote these books to be the books that I would have loved reading as a 13-year-old. But they’re suitable for 11+. They would be good for Dads to read with their kids... Especially if the kids and and the Dad shared an interest in computer games.

For more on George's work, see gamersquestbook.com.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Review: 30 Things My Dad Taught Me

Warning: After you read this book, you will want to cuddle your dad. Seriously.

30 Things My Dad Taught Me is quite a unique book. It was written by three brothers in the exploration of their father's wisdom. The brothers wrote this book after both of their parents passed away in the same year. In sharing their memories, you can not help but look at your own. Such a lovely idea and I imagine a very healing process for them. It is a very sweet collection of sayings, thoughts and stories of their lives with their dad.

Featured Father: David Miller

Happy father's day, David! 

Who are you?
David Miller

What do you do? 
I write and illustrate picture books for children.

How many kids do you have?
I have three children and three grandchildren.

What kind of Dad are you?
I was working at home in my studio when my children were growing up so I saw a lot of them each day. Most afternoons after school I would have one or the other just siting and talking with me as I worked. Now I live next door to one of my children and my granddaughters spend time with me in my studio drawing and making things.

What do your kids call you?

My kids call me David.

What do you like most about being a Dad?
Doing things with my children and seeing them being good parents. The best time is when we are all together.

What is your favourite book about Dads?
I love the dads in Bob Graham's books.

Can you tell us the name of your newest book? Will it be good for Dads?Rufus the Numbat, and near the back there is a picture with a lot of people in it and quite a few are my children and their families. Dads will love it.

See our review on Rufus The Numbat right here.

Review: I Love My Daddy

I love my daddy, yes I do. He’s kind, he’s funny, he’s clever and a great teacher. He sings me all his favourite songs (whilst playing air guitar), loves to dance – and when he lifts me onto his shoulders, I can almost touch the sky.

Author Giles Andrae is the king of simplicity. This lovely rhyming-text book once again hits the mark for toddlers with whimsical prose and the ability to look at the world from a youngster’s point of view.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Featured Father: Roland Harvey

Happy father's day, Roland! 

Who are you?
My name is Roland Bruce Lollypop Harvey. (It's not funny... I was named Bruce after my dad.)

What do you do? 
I do stuff for books like pictures and words and jokes. I am officially an 'Author - Illustrator'. I used to be a publisher and before that I was an Architect and before that I was a cute Little Boy.

How many kids do you have?
I have four children: Sallie Christina Harvey, Timothy Piers Harvey, Roland James Harvey and Sara Jane Harvey, but their real names are Sowly, Tin, Budge and China.

What kind of Dad are you?
I am a very bad dad. I let them do whatever they want and then I get REALLY cross if they do anything really wrong. I stick up for them if they get into trouble and expect them to look after me when I get old. We do lots of good things together.

What do your kids call you? 
My kids call me 'Pops', and if they want to borrow something, I am 'Rols'.

What do you like most about being a Dad?
The best thing about being a dad is having them for friends, and not having to get them clean any more. I'm very happy that with them as my kids, I sort of get to live forever.

What is your favourite book about Dads?
My favourite book about dads is the one I'm going to write about 'Domestic Fitness for Dads'.

Can you tell us the name of your newest book? Will it be good for Dads?
My newest book is 'All the Way to WA' in which the family from 'At the Beach' goes off to rescue Uncle Kev, who goes off to rescue the last 'Night Parrot' which was thought to be extinct. It is a good book to tempt kids to take their Dad all over Western Australia, and maybe find the Night Parrot together. But you'll have to wait until October to get it for a late Fathers' Day present!

See more about Lollypop Harvey at www.rolandharvey.com.au 
and see our review of To The Top End right here.

Review: Some Dads...

Some dads worry. Some dads hurry. Some get lost and some are sporty. Others like strolling and some are even naughty! (can you believe that?)

Dads are as individual as the children who adore them – not a single one is the same. Nick Bland celebrates those differences in a simple, utterly charming picture book.

Some Dads showcases a parade of adorable animal dads – from rhinos to monkeys – and their charges.

Father's Day Special, 2011

Happy father's day! 

Welcome to a very special celebration - our Father's Day Special on KBR! We love dads! especially the myriad dads who take the time to read to their kids - and Dad - yes you! - with this week's line-up of gorgeous books all about, well... you - now is the time to snuggle up for some serious reading sessions with the kids.

All week long we will celebrate with a stash of brand new books about dads - giving you plenty of time to dash to the shops and snaffle a copy for the special fatherly figure in your life - as well as guest appearances from some of the finest daddalicious authors and illustrators on the market, including Andrew Joyner, Roland Harvey and Dave Hackett.

Enjoy - and happy father's day to dads everywhere!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Review: Sparrow Girl

Ming-Li is a little girl who adores her pigeon and her sparrow friends. She may not be a farmer nor a wise old sage, but she does understand the cycle of life and nature.

When her country's leader declares 'war' on the sparrows that are eating up all the farmers' grain, Ming-Li is terrified for all birds, not just the sparrows. When she expresses this concern to her brother and father, they inform her she is just a girl - not a farmer - what does she know?

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Riley and the Grumpy Wombat Book Launch Party!

{click to enlarge}

You are invited! 
RSVP now - places go fast!

Review: A Sick Day for Amos McGee

Amos McGee wakes each morning and dons his zoo keeper uniform. He makes his oatmeal and tea (with two sugars), and catches the number five bus to the City Zoo.

When he gets there, he visits his friends. He plays chess with the elephant, runs races with the tortoise, lends a hanky to the rhino.

He keeps company with the penguin and reads to the owl (who just happens to be afraid of the dark) but when one day Amos wakes with a shocking cold, unable to go to work, just how will his friends cope?

Friday, 26 August 2011

Review: The Deep End

Becky loves going swimming, as long as she can touch the bottom of the pool.

But when her teacher decides it’s time for her to swim in the deep end, Becky is terrified. She is sure that she couldn’t possibly do it.

Or could she?

Review: Henry Hoey Hobson

Henry Hoey Hobson is the only boy in a sea of Year 7 girls at his new school, and he’s not happy.

To make matters worse, they’ve seen him moving a coffin with his strange neighbours and now they all think he’s a vampire. Henry agrees that his neighbours may in fact be creatures of the night themselves, and he does not want to be associated with them.

Henry’s mother is keen to make friends with the neighbours and insists on taking her son to their house and asking them to look after him while she works to secure their future together.

Little does she know that the people whose trust she is seeking actually have a very big secret, one that is behind the reason for the all the moves she and Henry have made throughout his life.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Review: The Life of a Teenage Body-Snatcher

England, 1828. Thomas Timewell is sixteen and digging up his grandfather’s body (as you do) when he meets a resurrectionist by the name of Plenitude.

Thomas’ life takes a turn as he tries to turn his back on this new career and way of life, but fails when Plenitude keeps appearing and calling on his services. He is now involved in a shady underground world and being followed by strange characters as he becomes a body-snatcher for the sake of science – all whilst trying to maintain his gentlemanly reputation.

Review: Two Peas in a Pod

This utterly charming book is charming in the best sense of the word – steeped in the language of authentic childhood, with childlike pictures to match.

Marvellous (a.k.a. Marvin) and Violet love to play. They adore each other so much, their mums reckons they are peas that came from the same pod. But when Violet moves away – to the ‘moon’, actually (and when you’re a child, even a move to a nearby town does indeed seem like the moon) – Marvellous is left bereft.

Review: The Red Wind

This is my first Carmody novel and I was very excited about starting it. No.1 in her new The Kingdom of the Lost series, The Red Wind is divided into three sections - stonefall, rainfall and heartfall.

In Stonefall, we meet two furry little creatures - Bily and Zluty - who live on a barren plain in a beautiful little cottage. The brothers hatched from a strange metal egg and have no relatives nor knowledge of where they're from.

When a strange red mist appears in the far off sky, the brothers are filled with dread, most especially as Zluty's pilgrimage to the Northern Forest to search for supplies for the long winter is due. Homebody Bily must stay at home as the more adventurous Zluty heads north.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Review: Our World

When I first picked up this book, I was utterly entranced. From the striking front cover to the lustrous and colourful contents, I just smiled and smiled and smiled and smiled.

This amazing book has been written and illustrated by the children and teachers of the One Arm Point Remote Community School at Ardiyooloon on the Dampier Peninsular, 200km borth of Broome.

Review: Six Impossible Things

Dan Cereill is a fourteen-year-old boy, and we all know that being a fourteen-year-old is confusing enough without having to deal with everything Dan has going on in his life.

His father has just declared he’s gay and left the family, they’re bankrupt and have to move to Dan’s deceased great aunt’s house and his mum is starting a new business.

As Dan says: “Guys, please, one life-changing shock at a time.”

Dan writes a list of the six things he wants to achieve in the near future – including kissing the beautiful girl next door, cheering up his mother and not turning out like his father – and they all seem impossible.

Review: Toppling

I had been meaning to pluck Murphy’s new book from my groaning pile for quite a while, and when faced with a momentary work break, decided I’d get started on this illustrated verse novel, aiming to make a small dent in it.

But once I began reading, I decided work could wait, and I polished off Toppling in around 15 minutes, unable to put it down.

Toppling's title is a cleverly apt reference to life and its capacity to push us over at times. The central pivot found in the book's title is revealed gently - softly laid in the hands of the young readers who will devour this book, giving hints and clues that sometimes things just don't go well in life - and how we really can cope and stay on top.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Review: The Tall Man and the Twelve Babies

It's a family affair! This gorgeous book by the Niland family of talent is just really great fun - adorable, kooky and strikingly illustrated... the perfect combination for... kids!

There was once a tall, tall man with very interesting hair who lived in a tiny apartment... with twelve babies. As you do. And all the boy babies were called Alistair. And all the girl babies were called Charlene.


Review: Maudie and the Bear

It was such a thrill to meet Jan Ormerod in person recently – and hear her read from her beautiful books.

This talented Australian author/illustrator has a library of books behind her – and I couldn’t be more green with envy that she both authors and illustrates much of her work… oh, and gets to work with other amazing talent, too!

Review: Wicked Warriors and Evil Emperors

Who wouldn't want their book illustrated by the illustrious Terry Denton? No one could be more perfect to add visuals to this amazing book by author Alison Lloyd - whose affection for China drips (along with oozings of blood) from every page.

Living in China during the Tian'anmen Square massacre, Lloyd has certainly seen it all, and having lived in Beijing myself for four years, I was absolutely fascinated by this book - one of my favourite non-fiction books this year.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Review: Violet Mackerel's Brilliant Plot

Violet Mackerel is a special kind of girl, that one in a million who can capture your imagination and make every little girl want to be like her.

Violet has a theory. Her theory is that whenever you spot something small and special on the ground, you must try to remember what you were thinking about at the very moment you saw it. That is because whatever you were thinking at that moment is a very important and brilliant idea.

Review: Look See, Look at Me!

So glorious to see a lustrous picture book for very young children centered in a vibrant Aboriginal community – so full of life and movement; it was a pleasure to read this book, despite the fact that I missed its target market by two score and two. Doesn’t matter. I was once three, and this book brings it all gurgling back.

Aimed at very young children, author Norrington’s latest book is a rhyming lollop through the expansive, full range of movement enjoyed by the very young – running, jumping, swimming, bumping – we follow a gorgeous little Aboriginal boy as he bounds around his community, from mum’s hip to the tippity-top of a tree, with family members flailing in panic underneath, ready to catch!

Review: Graffiti Moon

It’s a remarkable thing when a grown author can emulate the actions, thoughts and feelings of teens – I mean, I know we’ve all been there, but to impart this tumultuous and emotional time so well once we’ve grown… it can’t be easy.

Author Cath Crowley seems to have cruised through it in Grafitti Moon. I don’t know if Crowley found it difficult to impart the storyline and characters of this novel easily but she sure does it well. Not only is the plot and characterization authentically done, but the actual writing style she uses sent me straight back to high school English class, when poetry and short stories were the perfect vehicle for the expression of teen angst.

It's Book Week!

It's Book Week here in Australia - our favourite week of the year! and we are set for a wonderful week of celebration following the Book of the Year announcements last Friday. Just a little refresher - here are the nominees for Book of the Year in five categories, with our winners highlighted in red. This week we'll also be reposting the reviews of the books we've featured here on KBR.

See the Children's Book Council of Australia website for more information on the Notable Books and Chrichton Shortlist for new illustrators.

Book of the Year: Older Readers
Crowley, Cath
Pan Macmillan Australia
Hartnett, Sonya
The Midnight Zoo
Viking Books, Penguin Group (Australia)
Horniman, Joanne
About a Girl
Allen & Unwin
MacLeod, Doug
Penguin Books, Penguin Group (Australia)
Marchetta, Melina
The Piper’s Son
Penguin Books, Penguin Group (Australia)
Wood, Fiona
Pan Macmillan Australia

Book of the Year: Younger Readers
Bauer, Michael Gerard
Just a Dog
Omnibus Books, Scholastic Australia
Bongers, Christine
Woolshed Press, Random House Australia
Branford, Anna
Ill. Sarah Davis
Walker Books Australia
Carmody, Isobelle
Viking Books, Penguin Group (Australia)
McKinlay, Meg
Ill. Leila Rudge
Duck for a Day
Walker Books Australia
Murphy, Sally
Ill. Rhian Nest James
Walker Books Australia

Book of the Year: Early Childhood
Champion, Tom Niland & Niland, Kilmeny
Ill. Deborah Niland
Allen & Unwin
Dubosarsky, Ursula
Ill. Mitch Vane
Puffin Books, Penguin Group (Australia)
Lester, Alison
Noni the Pony
Allen & Unwin
Niland, Deborah
It’s Bedtime, William!
Viking Books, Penguin Group (Australia)
Norrington, Leonie
Ill. Dee Huxley
Allen & Unwin
Ormerod, Jan
Ill. Freya Blackwood
Little Hare Books

Picture Book of the Year
Baker, Jeannie
Walker Books
Bancroft, Bronwyn
Why I Love Australia
Little Hare Books
Greenberg, Nikki
Allen & Unwin
Kane, Kim
Ill. Lucia Masciullo
Family Forest
Hardie Grant Egmont
McKimmie, Chris
Allen & Unwin
Riddle, Tohby
My Uncle’s Donkey
Viking Books, Penguin Group (Australia)

Eve Pownall Award for Information Books
Brasch, Nicolas
Theme Parks, Playgrounds and Toys
Macmillan Education Australia
Brooks, Ron
Drawn from the Heart: A Memoir
Allen & Unwin
Davidson, Leon
Zero Hour: The Anzacs on the Western Front
The Text Publishing Company
Dubosarsky, Ursula
Illustrated by Tohby Riddle
The Return of the Word Spy
Viking, Penguin Group (Australia)
Lloyd, Alison
Illustrated by Terry Denton
Puffin Books, Penguin Group (Australia)
One Arm Point Remote Community School
Magabala Books

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Review: No-Thanks-Hanks

So lovely to see a Katz/Vane book in picture book form, where Vane’s brilliant illustrations can really gallop across the page. I love the comic elements in her work, but also her kooky style and choice of colour – the ideal palette for the rhythmic work of Katz.

So what on earth is No-Thanks-Hanks? Well, it is a series of nonsense tales and poems and observations that will quite simply make kids of many ages smile, giggle and do lots of “Muuuuum! Listen to this!”s.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Review: Nanberry, Black Brother White

Don't you love it when people say they quite literally couldn't put a book down and you sort of think to yourself "yeah... right... it may have been good but you DID put it down at some stage...". Well, I'm here to tell you, I quite literally could not put Jackie French's latest book - Nanberry - down.

Admittedly, I did read it over two days, so yes, I did put it down to sleep at one stage, but all other times, that book was in my hands constantly, even as I went about other vital human processes (like making cups of tea). The book simply enveloped me.

Nanberry, Black Brother White is a truly astounding historical fictional novel. From the voice French uses, to the character development, the astonishing descriptions, the emotionally deep human elements... it is a breathtaking story... and even more so for its basis in truth.

Friday, 19 August 2011

And the winners are... CBCA Books of the Year!

KBR is thrilled to announce the winners in the Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards for 2011!

Book of the Year: Older Readers
The Midnight Zoo by Sonya Hartnett (Penguin)

Book of the Year: Younger Readers
The Red Wind by Isobelle Carmody (Puffin)
Book of the Year: Early Childhood
Maudie and Bear by Jan Ormerod (Hardie Grant) 

Picture Book of the Year
Mirror by Jeannie Baker (Walker Books)
Hamlet by Nicki Greenberg (Allen & Unwin)
Eve Pownall Award for Information Books   
The Return of the Word Spy by Ursula Dubosarsky (Penguin)

HUGE CONGRATS TO ALL THE WINNERS! from all of us at KBR and also our biggest congrats to the Honour Book winners:

Book of the Year: Older Readers 
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley (Pan Macmillan)
The Life of a Teenage Body-Snatcher by Doug MacLeod (Penguin)
Book of the Year: Younger Readers 
Just a Dog by Michael Gerard Bauer (Omnibus)
Violet Mackerel's Brilliant Plot by Anna Branford (Walker Books)
Book of the Year: Early Childhood 
The Tall Man and the Twelve Babies by Tom Niland Champion and Deborah Niland (Allen & Unwin)
Look See, Look at Me by Leonie Norrington (Allen & Unwin)

Picture Book of the Year 
Why I Love Australia by Bronwyn Bancroft (Little Hare Books)
My Uncle's Donkey by Tohby Riddle (Viking)

Eve Pownall Award for Information Books   
Drawn From the Heart: A Memoir by Ron Brooks (Allen & Unwin)
Our World: Bardi Jaawi: Life at Ardiyooloon by One Arm Point Remote Community School (Magabala Books)

See this year's notable books at the CBCA website.