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

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Guest Post: Sheryl Gwyther on Grug . . . a little miracle worker

KBR warmly welcomes friend and literary talent Sheryl Gwyther with this interesting post on a bookish icon.

If you were at school or were a parent or teacher between 1979 and 1992, you’ll know about Grug – the hairy, brown and yellow striped character who inhabited a series of books written by Australian author, Ted Prior. (re-published by Simon & Schuster, Australia)

Why is Grug a miracle worker?

Before I get to that, let me tell you about Grug. Set in the Australian bush (and city), this small fictional character was formed when the top fell off a Burrawang tree. Grug looks like he’s the progeny of a haystack and a striped football sock.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Review: Oh No, George!

Harris is about to leave the house. With a slightly concerned bulge in his eye, he asks George, point blank:

"Will you be good, George?"

"Yes," says George. "I will be very good."

Moments after Harris leaves, George trots through the house with a wide-eyed look across his adorable doggy face. He is thinking to himself "I hope I'll be good."


Sunday, 29 January 2012

Review: Riley and the Grumpy Wombat

Ask 1,001 Australians what a kid’s picture book is and they’ll come up with a variation on ‘bright pictures, simple words and lots of white space’. Just sometimes there’s a touch of brilliance in the breeze, and it’s different.

Riley and the Grumpy Wombat is one of the different ones.

Like the others in the Riley series, it combines photos of iconic places with bright images of Riley, the boy who travels the world to find a dragon in Beijing, a lion in Hong Kong, a koala in Sydney and in this case a grumpy wombat in Melbourne.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

NYR12 news: Read This!

For teens, NYR12 will be running Read This!, an expansion of something that already happens through the Centre for Youth Literature.

Young people will be asked to nominate the one book they think their peers must read in 2012 and then to provide a convincing argument in the form of a creative response to the story.

This will be a book review, but it could be in the form of words, pictures, film, song, or something even more avant garde.

NYR12 are partnering with insideadog.com.au, spineout.com.au and Madman Entertainment to create a fantastic competition with some really great prizes.

Learn more here!

Review: Set to Sign: Sleepover

Just as all languages do, British Sign Language has its own grammar and word order. The main topic of any conversation is signed before its modifier, so rather than saying 'that is my house', you would sign 'house - mine'.

But sign language is much more than just hand signals. The same signs can actually be used to represent many different things, depending on its modifiers, expression, position and intensity.

Designed for kids who already have a basic understanding of sign language - or for children who may, for various reasons, have speech difficulties, this brilliant set of cards from Child's Play focuses on extending vocabulary and encouraging discourse in more complex events and emotions.

Complete with gorgeous illustrations by Jess Stockham, these sturdy cards feature a front face with image and word, then a back face with signing explanation and instructional picture. The BSL hand shapes are also explained on a card at the back of the pack - and all come in a handy plastic cover.

A wonderful extension for children with hearing loss, the cards could also be used for the development of vocabulary comprehension in children under two - also known as baby signing.

The cards also come in other themes: Baby Sitter, Big Day Out, Nursery. See the Child's Play website for more.

Title: Set to Sign: Sleepover
Illustrator: Jess Stockham
Publisher: Child's Play, $19.95 RRP
Publication Date: 1 September 2009
ISBN: 9781846432972
Format: Card set
For ages: 2 - 5
Type: Educational card park

Friday, 27 January 2012

Review: Peter's Railway

I recently stumbled across this wonderful train series and I’m so glad that I did. The Peter’s Railway series is the perfect next step for any Thomas the Tank Engine fan looking for something a little more detailed.

Peter lives in the English countryside with his parents and twin siblings, Kitty and Harry. Peter’s grandparents live nearby, across some fields and on the other side of Bluebell Wood. Peter and his grandfather devise a plan to build a railway to connect their homes so that they can see each other more often.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Guest Post: Some Secrets should Never Be Kept

Kids Book Review welcomes Jayneen Sanders teacher, editor, author and publisher — to tell us about the challenges she faced with writing a book about sexual abuse. The lessons she has learned along the way and the lessons she hopes to share with the book. Over to you Jayneen.

About three years ago, when I was on my children’s school council, I brought up the topic of protective behaviours. I asked my fellow committee members why we did not have a protective behaviours program in our school. No one could give me a satisfactory answer, and time and time again the topic was placed at the bottom of the agenda.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Review: The Little Old Man Who Looked up at the Moon

I almost feel like Pamela Allen should have her own category when it comes to kids books. She is one of the most prolific writers in Australian children's literature. If you don't have the pleasure of knowing her work you then you must track her down. She is one of those writers whose work that perhaps you would see and go "Ah yes, I know that book, I loved that book." THAT is a Pamela Allen book.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Guest Post: Dee White's Writing Classes for Kids

KBR warmly welcomes author and friend Dee White, to chat about her love of books and her exciting new venture - Writing Classes for Kids.

I am so thrilled to be at Kids Book Review talking about books and writing, the things I love most (besides my family and friends).

Monday, 23 January 2012

Review: Famous Classics for Girls and Adventure Classics for Boys

One of the regrets I hope never to have, is that I never read enough of the classics. Most of us probably have great visions of immersing ourselves in not only the greatest adult classics of all time, but the great children’s classics, that have very much shaped our literary lives and become the stuff of legends.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

How to Maximize your Book Readings to Children with Karen Tyrrell

KBR warmly welcomes author Karen Tyrrell with this guest post on maximising book readings to kids. Whether you're a teacher, librarian, author or parent - you're sure to pick up some great ideas.

Do you have an author gig lined up at a school, library or book store? Want to connect with your young audience from the very start? Grab their attention? Create an interactive atmosphere? Do you yearn to leave them begging for more?

When I was first contacted by schools and libraries to read my Super Space Kids series to kids, I focused on dramatizing gripping excerpts, stimulating the kids' imagination. When you read to young children, it's important you tap into their collective and individual imaginations.

Here are my top 10 secrets for engaging children at a book reading:

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Review: The High Street

If the cover doesn't instantly suck you into this gorgeous book, you've probably got your eyes shut.

Of course, a cover can sometimes belie the content - but not so with Alice Melvin's striking book.

The author takes us on a visual journey down a charming high street, revealing the outside and also the inner workings of a series of shops along the way.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Review: Legend

The first book of a new trilogy by author Marie Lu, Legend is a gripping dystopian thriller set in the distant future. The western United States is now the Republic, perpetually at war with its neighbours. Within the Republic, citizens are forced to undertake a test at age 10 which determines future education and career prospects.

15-year-olds June and Day know this well. From an elite family, June is the first ever citizen reported to score full marks in the test and she has progressed quickly through the ranks at the military training facility she attends. Day failed and he now lives on the streets trying to undermine the Republic and bring what support he can to his impoverished family.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Review: Knit One, Purl One

In the style of One Stitch at a Time, and one of the first books to come out of the Black Dog Books/Walker Books merger, this adorable craft book is published in kit form, with a removable instruction book and 'knitting box' filled with all the ingredients needed to make some pretty cute friends.

Spiral bound for ease-of-use, the book introduces knitting techniques to youngsters, and offers up info on the equipment a true toy-creator needs - items such as knitting needles, scissors, crochet hooks and yarn needles.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Review: The Bicycle

What does a bicycle mean to you?

Do you think of your first time learning to ride with the wind in your face? Do you think about  your first grazed knee? Or do you think about that thing gathering dust in your garage that you think you should probably use more?

Perhaps something else?

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Review: The Treasure Thief

Some friends - a fox and a chicken - farewell some other friends - a bear, rabbit and chicken - as they set sail in a little rowboat, perhaps on a daily outing.

The boat is hit by a storm and the trio end up on a strange island with odd shaped boulders and a mysterious cave.

Exhausted, the rabbit and bear collapse in the cave, but the chicken spies a treasure. A strange, glowing orb.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Review: A House in the Woods

Two little pigs live in the woods, in crude little dwellings - a hut and a den. One day, the pigs go wandering and discover an interesting stick and a pretty feather. When they return to their dwellings, they see Bear and Moose have moved in to their homes!

Of course, Moose and Bear are BIG, so the little dwellings are smashed to smithereens, but the little pigs are unfazed. Whilst the friends sit and chat about the inadvertent destruction, Moose comes up with a brilliant idea ... why not build a proper house all four of them can live in?

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Blog Tour: Gunnedah Hero by Clancy Tucker

KBR warmly welcomes author Clancy Tucker on his blog tour, in celebration of the release of his new book Gunnedah Hero. Enjoy this wonderful interview!

Welcome, Clancy! What's your story?
I have lived in four countries and speak three languages. I currently live in Victoria and write young adult fiction for reluctant readers. I have also achieved success as a poet and photographer. I am now a full time writer, but I been a speechwriter, public servant, farmer and small business operator. I have also taught students in the USA, and worked with street kids. I draw on all of these life experiences to write entertaining stories for kids.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Review: Bronwyn Bancroft's 1, 2, 3 and abc box set

I love to give books as a gift for newborns and I have always been a fan of Indigenous Australian artist/illustrator Bronwyn Bancroft, so it is no surprise that I enjoy this wonderful board book set for little ones.

Featuring two books, An Australian 1, 2, 3 of Animals (numbers 1 – 12) and An Australian a b c of Animals, the books feature Bancroft's gorgeous, colourful illustrations of Australian wildlife. From ants to zebra lionfish and platypus to emu, the books are a wonderful way to introduce babies and toddlers to the joys of reading.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Guest Post: Nine-Year-Old Author Jarod Bainbridge

KBR warmly welcomes author, movie maker and philanthropist Jarod Bainbridge - a little man with some pretty big ideas. 

My name is Jarod Bainbridge, my friends call me JJ. I am 9 years old and currently a 4th grader at an Elementary School in Poway, California, USA. I have been writing books since I was six years old. I have a vivid imagination and enjoy reading, drawing, and writing in my free time. I also enjoy making and publishing my books.

When I was six, we were on vacation at my grandparent's house, when my mom wanted to take a day trip to visit a friend. I sat down in the car and my parents gave me paper and a pencil to occupy myself.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Review: Fly Guy vs The Flyswatter!

It's so easy to enjoy Tedd Arnold's iconic illustrations and warmly funny storylines, and this adorable addition to the Fly Guy collection, in chapter book format, is ideal for beginner readers who want some humour and literary punch with their learning.

Fly Guy is the pet of a young boy who loves flies - a boy called Buzz.

One day, Fly Guy is eating a delicious lunch in Buzz's backpack when Buzz grabs his pack and heads off to school.

Making a surprise appearance outside the lockers, Buzz stows his little mate in his pocket as the class heads off on an excursion to a local factory. A factory that makes . . . flyswatters!!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

10 Little Penguins Stuck on the Fridge

If two little penguins each have two fish and the polar bear takes two fish and eats them, how many fish (and penguins) are left?

We at KBR love anything that will help kids thrive - whether it be reading . . . or counting. In this adorable new pack by award-winning, dynamic French duo Fromental and Jolivet, we meet 10 little magnetic penguins and their hungry polar bear friend - who have a lot of numeracy-associated activities to perform.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Review: The House Baba Built

Subtitled An Artist's Childhood in China, The House Baba Built is a biographical account of the childhood of Ed Young, ensconced in the house his father built in war-stricken Shanghai with extended family and friends.

Born in Tianjin 1931, two years into the Great Depression and just as China was invaded, leaving incalculable people homeless, Ed retells his memories of this time, both through word and picture.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Review: The Cloud

Art class is fun. Everyone loves to paint and draw. Except one little girl who seems to have a big black cloud over her head.

Determined to make friends, a little fair-haired girl approaches the black cloud girl and brings her some starry bright conversation.

But all she gets is black, scribbly cloud conversation in return. Drats.

Does she give up? No. She tries the language of art. She offers the opportunity to draw something nice together - a bunny rabbit, a house, an ice cream cone . . . but the gloomy little girl continues to add nothing more than a squiggly black cloud.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Review: Cahills vs. Vespers: The Medusa Plot

After travelling the world to discover the 39 Clues that would secure their position at the head of the powerful Cahill family, siblings Amy and Dan thought that they had won and life would return to normal. Instead, a thrilling new adventure begins as they are called on to protect the 39 Clues from the ruthless Vespers.

The Medusa Plot is the first book in a completely new six-book 39 Clues series, Cahills vs. Vespers. The first book promises to bring the same sense of excitement found in the original series. Amy and Dan try to outwit the Vespers to rescue their kidnapped family members and keep the 39 Clues from falling into the wrong hands.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Review: The Brilliant World of Tom Gates

For boys, in particular, there's so much fun and creativity to be found in a fully illustrated junior fiction book. Yes, the text may be nominal but sometimes the gist of the text, the humour and relatability are more than enough to feed the literary well of kids.

War and Peace can come later - or - more righly - when they are ready.

I mean, if they're struggling to read or just want something light, why scare them away with the onus of heavy nightly texts?

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Guest Post: Author Lian Tanner

Kids Book Review is thrilled to welcome Lian Tanner, author of The Keepers Trilogy, to give us an insight into the amazing world she has created. Sit down and have a well-deserved break and read about how the brizzlehounds came about and the magical 'What If?'. Over to you Lian.

There’s a wonderfully unusual beast in the Keepers trilogy called a brizzlehound, and one of the questions I am often asked is ‘Where did you get the idea for such a creature?’

Review: City of Lies (The Keepers #2)

This fast paced adventure begins with Goldie Roth being offered the honourable role of Fifth Keeper in the Museum of Dunt. Due to the declining health of her parents, Goldie decides to refuse the position in person.

“Tonight she would reply. Never”

This is when the trouble begins.

During her journey to the Museum, Goldie finds her friends Toadspit and Bonnie whisked away by kidnappers, and so begins her adventure in Stoke, where the Festival of Lies is about to begin. Stoke is an odd city, where everything said is twisted into a lie, and no one can be trusted. Goldie must access all her skills as liar and thief to survive through the festival and rescue her friends.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Guest Post - Collaborative Writing 2.0 with Tristan Bancks

KBR is delighted to welcome author Tristan Bancks with this fabulous post on collaborative writing with schools.

My Life and Other Stuff I Made Up is a book of short stories that I wrote not only for kids but with them. Now, more than ever, children’s authors have an opportunity to invite readers into the process and blur the line between creator and audience.

I often use my workshop, festival and Skype sessions as a chance to brainstorm stories with kids.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Review: You Will Be My Friend

You can just hear the droning tones of this delightfully adorable and very irritating little bear as she flings herself around the friendly neighbourhood forest with the sole purpose of finding herself a new friend.

After announcing to her mum that she is off to hunt down all manner of local critters and make them her friend, Lucy sets off into the forest, skipping and dancing - with every intention of climbing trees, doing cartwheels, going swimming, having a dance party and picnics with her new recruit.


Sunday, 1 January 2012

KBR Favourite Book of the Year 2011 - WINNERS!

We are delighted to announce the winners in our annual Favourite Book of the Year for 2011. Congratulations to all these glorious books and people - we love your work!

Books for Littlies

Let's Play Games series
by Hervé Tullet (Phaidon)

Eye-Popping Picture Book

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

Mesmerising Early Reader

Claude in the City
by Alex T Smith (Hachette)

Enthralling Junior Fiction Book

Surface Tension
by Meg McKinlay (Walker Books)

Cool Fact Book

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

Intriguing Young Adult Read

Nanberry: Black Brother White
by Jackie French (HarperCollins)

That 'Something Extra Special' Book

by Ross Collins (Gullane Children's Books)

Enchanting e-book

The Heart and the Bottle
by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins)

Favourite Author of the Year

Jackie French

Favourite Illustrator of the Year

Sarah Davis

Favourite Proactive Person NEW CATEGORY!

Angela Hall, Bug in a Book

Favourite Book of the Year
by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins)

What do you think of our choices? It was very hard to decide! Leave a comment and tell us what you think - and also tell us your favourite children's books for 2011.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year and a prosperous, 
literary 2012 to everyone!

from the Team at KBR