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

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Review: How Machines Work

With an inquisitive young mechanical engineer-in-training in my home, I’m always on the look out for interesting books for children about machines, construction, gears and similar topics. This great book caught my attention immediately.

Not only does How Machines Work promise to ‘explore the science behind simple machines and mechanisms – from levers, gears and pulleys to ratchets, cams and cranks’, it also supplies a collection of moveable parts and instructions for readers to build 12 working models for themselves.

Recipients of our Massive Book Giveaway


It was an overwhelming experience receiving nominations for our first ever massive book giveaway. You can imagine how tough it was to single out just two recipients from a stash of superbly deserving entries.

We have, nonetheless, carefully weighed up the entrants, and made our decision.

Our older reader book pack, valued at over $1000, will go to:
Matong Public School in rural New South Wales, nominated by Valerie McKelvie. Valerie says these books will be a priceless addition to the school's students.

Our younger reader book pack, valued at over $1000, will go to:
Marymead, a Canberran, community-based not-for-profit organisation with a 43 year history of supporting vulnerable and disadvantaged children and families, to provide hope and positive change. Nominated by Christine Evans.

Driven to help as many of the nominees as we possibly could, KBR managed to do a few song and dances, and rustled up a second younger reader book pack, also valued at over $1000. This pack goes to:
Children's Book Council of Australia ACT Branch Children's Christmas Book Appeal, whose volunteers collect and disseminate books to needy children through the aid of Family Services, Care and Protection, and women's refuges. Nominated by Jill Howard and Rachael Hind.

We have also awarded a picture book set valued at over $350 to:
Tupou Tertiary Institute in the Kingdom of Tonga, where Helen Laidlaw, an Australian volunteer librarian, works with local children, teaching them English and expanding their literacy skills. Nominated by Helen Laidlaw and Jodie McAlister.

Running this nomination process has been an emotional ride for us at KBR. There are so many amazing people doing phenomenal things for literacy, both in our country and abroad. Thank you to everyone for nominating very worthy recipients for this giveaway and congrats to those who will benefit from the books. 

Thank you, too, to all those who take pride in giving children the best possible start to life - through the magic of books.

If you are interested in learning more about bringing literacy awareness to Australians - both children and adults - head to the National Year of Reading website and learn about all the exciting events and opportunities unfolding around the nation in 2012.

KBR Favourite Book of the Year 2011: The Shortlist

Our annual Favourite Book of the Year is back! This year we are nominating five books, once again, in several categories - and will announce the winners on 1 January 2012.

Enjoy this peek at some of our very favourite books for 2011!

Books for Littlies

by Katey Love (Books for Newborns)

Let's Play Games series
by Hervé Tullet (Phaidon)
by Paul Thurlby (Hardie Grant Egmont)

by Christopher Franceschelli (Bloomsbury)

by Orla Keily (Hardie Grant Egmont)

Eye-Popping Picture Book

Marshall Armstrong is New to Our School
by David Mackintosh (HarperCollins)

Once There Was a Boy
by Dub Leffler (Magabala Books)

The Great Expedition by Peter Carnavas (New Frontier)

No Bears
by Meg McKinlay (Walker Books)

by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins)

Mesmerising Early Reader

Animal Tales
series by Susan Hall (National Library of Australia)

Claude in the City
by Alex T Smith (Hachette)

Operation Alphabet
by Al MacCuish (Thames & Hudson)

Violet Mackerel's Remarkable Recovery
by Anna Branford (Walker Books)


Enthralling Junior Fiction Book

Surface Tension
by Meg McKinlay (Walker Books)

Too Small to Fail
by Maurice Gleitzman (Penguin)

The Golden Day
by Ursula Dubosarsky (Allen & Unwin)

Pizza Cake
by Morris Gleitzman (Penguin)

Wonder Struck
by Brian Selznick (Scholastic)

Cool Fact Book

compiled by Nadia Wheatley (Allen & Unwin)

Into the Unknown
by Stewart Ross (Walker Books)

What Body Part is That?
by Andy Griffiths (Pan Macmillan)

Pop-Up London
by Jenny Maizels (Walker Books)

Intriguing Young Adult Read

Between Shades of Gray
by Ruta Sepetys (Penguin)

Nanberry: Black Brother White
by Jackie French (HarperCollins)

by Cat Patrick (Hardie Grant Egmont)

Mole Hunt
by Paul Collins (Ford Street Publishing)

Anna and the French Kiss
by Stephanie Perkins (Penguin)

That 'Something Extra Special' Book

My Grandma's Kitchen
by Louise Fulton Keats (Hardie Grant)

Press Here
by Herve Tullet (Allen & Unwin)

Starry Starry Night
by Sarah Kate Mitchell (Pier 9)

by Kyo Mclear (Hardie Grant Egmont)

by Ross Collins (Gullane Children's Books)

Enchanting e-book

Will & Kate: A Love Story
by Ink Robin

The Heart and the Bottle
by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins)

Peekaboo Forest
by Night and Day Studios

Nighty Night
by Shape Minds & Moving Images 

Favourite Author of the Year

Meg McKinlay
Ursula Dubosarsky
Dave Hackett
Jackie French
Adam Wallace

Favourite Illustrator of the Year

Peter Carnavas
Tina Matthews
Emma Quay
Bruce Whatley
Sarah Davis

Favourite Proactive Person NEW CATEGORY!

This Proactive Person can be an author, illustrator, blogger, reviewer, publisher, publicist or other industry professional, who contributes consistently and invaluably to the children's book scene.

Dee White, author and literacy advocate
Angela Hall, Bug in a Book
Vicki Stanton, Buzz Words
Paul Collins, author and publisher
Hazel Edwards, author

Favourite Book of the Year

What will it be???

Stay tuned for our announcement on 1 January 2012, and please leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts on our selection.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Guest Post: Author Katherine Pershall

Kids Book Review warmly welcomes Katherine Pershall, author of The Dog Stole My Brain, who released her first book (co written with her mum) when she was only in grade five! This is one dedicated lady and this is one lovely story of how this author found her way into writing kids books. Reading her story made me want to drop what I was doing and write right now. Over to you Katherine!

Review: Shake a Leg

Shake a Leg is about three hungry boys hunting for pizza in far North Queensland, when they come across a pizzeria. What they find is an Italian speaking ‘Murri fella’, and a feast accompanied by stories from the past.

This book cleverly weaves Indigenous culture through the stories told by the Murri fella, which relate to the food served to the boys. Crocodile pizzas and the boy who went hunting in the wrong waterhole and honey milkshakes accompanied by the warning dance about the stinging bee.

Monday, 28 November 2011

The Winners! KBR's Unpublished Manuscript Award 2011


What a challenge judging KBR's inaugural Unpublished Manuscript Award for a Picture Book! We were absolutely inundated with entries and are very proud to announce the following winners:


Mad Bad Uncle David by Catriona Hoy
winner of the Published Author Picture Book Award

Bollinger's Banquet by Rebecca Colless
winner of the Unpublished Author Picture Book Award

You have both won $150, a manuscript appraisal and the chance to interview on KBR! Stayed tuned for these interviews, which will be appearing at the end of December.


Runners-up in the Published Author Category:
Pelican Creek by Tom Skinner
Megan Dances by Anne Young
Ruby Pickles by Adam Wallace

Runners-up in the Unpublished Author Category:
Practically Perfect Petunia by Annette Campbell
A - Z by Lisa Demos
Black Dog, Brown Dog by Spider Lee

Congratulations! You have all won a short manuscript appraisal.

But wait, there's more...

We were so impressed by the amount (and calibre) of entries, we feel compelled to offer some further mentions. Some Highly Commended nods (ie: that close!), followed by some Special Mentions for works that were either beautifully-written or featured unique or brilliant story ideas.


Published Author Category
The Animal Whisperer by Renee Bennett

Unpublished Author Category
Fi the Flea by Rebecca Colless
Dinner with the Dipples by Annette Campbell
Biker Bread by Rebecka Sharpe-Shelberg
Hariette's Bed by Kate Sainsbury


Published Author Category
Whose Shoes? by Janeen Brian

Unpublished Author Category
Fast Eddie and the Slippery Snake by Ken Williams
Free to Remember by Rebecka Sharpe-Shelberg
Iris and the 96 Tram by Karen Charlton
A Real Superhero by Rebecca Newman
Monster Monster by Alex Finlayson
The Best of Friends by Kaye Baillie
The Cake That Went Bad by Jo-Ann Spataro
The Forgotten Playground by Gay McKinnon
The Naughty Flyaway Scarf by Carol Hepburn
Dark Black Night by Sylvia Forbes
Snowy by Mary Dunbar
Lilly's Amazing Coats by Chris Caelli
David's Diff-Ability by Fiona Van Lochem
Rainforest Magic by Dimity Powell
Harry's Cloud by Lillian Liu
The Monster in Timmy's Tummy by Kylie Fornasier
Trim by Pat Simmons
Molly McFuzzle Wanted to Fly by Lynn Ward
Old Bloat and Little Bleat by Rebecca Colless
Oscar Goes to the Moon by Mira Tanner
The Royal Arrival by Vicki Stanton

Thank you to everyone who entered our inaugural comp. We are thrilled with the response and positive feedback we received in running this KBR initiative - and were truly stunned at the amount and quality of entries, making it a very tough to choose winners. We take great pride in the work of our talented Australian writers.

Thank you, also, to the wonderful people who supported our Award, and helped us get the word out. It certainly worked!

Congrats again to our winners, and . . . happy writing, all! See you again next year.

Review: Just Right

It's Christmas Eve and the King is out shopping for Christmas gifts when he spies a bolt of beautiful bright red cloth . . . the perfect fabric for a brand new cloak for his princess daughter.

Taking the cloth back to the castle, the King's seamstresses snip and sew up a glorious cloak . . . but what to do with all the left over fabric?

'Just bundle them up and put them outside the back door,' says the King.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Guest Post: Publisher Sophia Whitfield from New Frontier

Next year New Frontier will celebrate its 10th birthday. We started out by publishing across genres, but soon began to concentrate on children’s books. Like Winnie the Pooh, we are big believers in short, easy words!

“It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like 'What about lunch?'" A.A. Milne

Many of the simplest picture books are also the most powerful picture books.

This year we continued with our picture book list. Our three latest titles include Mr Darcy, Nancy Bentley and Lily’s Wish. 

Mr Darcy started out as the pet duck of a dear friend and developed into the story written by Alex Field and illustrated by Peter Carnavas.

The story of Nancy Bentley first came to the attention of New Frontier three years ago on a family tour of the Australian War Memorial.

The children on the tour were entranced by Nancy’s story. Tracey Hawkins has brought it to life with her moving words, coupled with Jacqui Grantford’s magical illustrations.

Lily’s Wish, our first Christmas title, is written by Barbara Pyett and illustrated by Serena Geddes. It is a special book as for Barbara it is her first. One of the privileges we have at New Frontier is fostering new Australian talent.

Our list has now grown to 150 titles. We publish Australian authors and illustrators and sell rights to our books consistently overseas. We have also extended our list to Junior Fiction with a number of new series being developed. The fourth book in the Totally Twins series will be released next year and we recently celebrated the launch of the Totally Twins website – www.totallytwins.com.au.

Many authors submitted material for our new Little Rockets series, which will be launched with much fanfare next year. Four titles will be released along with a dedicated website. Our designer has done a fabulous job creating a new design for this series, which is for 6-8 year olds. Today, you can take a sneak peek at the cover. There will be coloured illustrations throughout these books.

We are so excited about this new series and hope it encourages independent readers to pick up a book and begin their reading journey.

We continue to be passionate about our Aussie Heroes series, which informs primary school readers about Australians who have made a contribution to society. The first two books are Dame Nellie Melba and Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop.

The next book in the series, Professor Fred Hollows, will be released early next year. An Aussie Heroes series website is also being developed with educational material for teacher librarians to use within schools.

It is an exciting time at New Frontier as we develop new series and continue our successful picture book list. In the next couple of weeks our updated website will be launched with better accessibility and extensive support material for educators.

We love what we do and are committed to continuing to foster Australian talent. Most of all we hope our books inspire, uplift and educate children. That is what we set out to do.

KBR loves hearing from publishers about the passion and drive behind books. Learn more about the hard work behind the scenes at New Frontier by visiting their website.