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

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Review: Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?

“The polar bear book”, as my son refers to it, has been a favourite at bedtime for many weeks now.

I personally love the style of Eric Carle's drawings and the colour tones in the book. In this short story, we meet a new animal with each page, which helps us to discover what creature is coming next by saying what they hear.

My son adores making all the animal noises.

After a few readings, through the repetitive nature of the story, he was able to join in and ask the question himself.

Review: When a Dragon Moves In

A little boy spends the day at the beach with his family and builds the perfect sandcastle. What happens next? A dragon moves in, of course!

The boy and dragon enjoy all kinds of beach-fun including kite flying and toasting marshmallows.

However, when things go wrong, the boy can't seem to convince his family that it's a dragon causing all the trouble . . . and not him.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Review: Greylands

Loss and grief during childhood is always difficult; at times unbearable. The way children cope with the pain associated with loss is the theme of Isobelle Carmody’s Greylands. The book was first published in 1997. In this new, revised edition, there is an excellent and moving Foreword that opens the reader to the contents of the book.

The story is presented peripherally as a fable, with its messages presented from the centre out. It’s also a gentle and enquiring story of love and its loss, and the consequences of that loss on those left behind.

KBR Recommends: Young Adult Fiction, September 2012

The quality of YA fiction just keeps getting better and better. Here is a stash of new release YA that will tempt both late teens and adults alike. Enjoy every delicious drop.

Whisky Charlie Foxtrot by Annabel Smith (Fremantle Press, $24.99, 9781922089144)

It is less than twenty-four hours since Charlie received the phone call from his mother, and in those hours his only thought has been that Whisky must not die. He must not die because he, Charlie, needs more time.

He and Whisky have not been friends, have not talked or laughed together for months, years. But he has never thought it will end like this. He has always thought there will be time.

Whisky and Charlie are identical twins. But everything about them is poles apart. It's got so bad that Charlie can't even bear to talk to his brother anymore – until a freak accident steals Whisky from his family, and Charlie has to face the fact he may never speak to his brother again.

Rigg's Crossing by Michelle Heeter (Ford Street Publishing, $19.95, 9781921665707 )

A girl is found in the wreckage of a car crash. Severely injured and psychologically damaged, the girl cannot or will not tell the authorities who she is or where she comes from.

Her carers call her ‘Len’, after the name embroidered on the jumper she was wearing when she was found.

Secretive, intelligent, and abrasive, Len is moved to a children’s shelter. Slowly, Len’s repressed memories fight their way to the surface of her troubled mind. And an evil figure from her shadowy past comes looking for her.

Eve and Adam by Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant (Electric Monkey, $25.95, 9780312583514)

In the beginning, there was an apple - and then there was a car crash, a horrible injury, and a hospital. But before Evening Spiker's head clears a strange boy named Solo is rushing her to her mother's research facility. There, under the best care available, Eve is left alone to heal. 

Just when Eve thinks she will die - not from her injuries, but from boredom--her mother gives her a special project: Create the perfect boy. Using an amazingly detailed simulation, Eve starts building a boy from the ground up. 

Eve is creating Adam. And he will be just perfect . . . won't he?

Falling to Ash by Karen Mahoney (Random House, $18.95, 9781742754932)

Marie 'Moth' O'Neal is an eternal teenager, cursed to live out her life as an eighteen-year-old vampire and shunned by her strictly religious family. Her Maker, Theo, prizes her as his best Retriever and sends her on increasingly difficult missions. That's how Moth finds herself investigating the suspicious deaths plaguing a group of Otherkin kids in Boston. The 'kin like to live the vampire lifestyle, but they've managed to attract the attention of a dark force that's slowly picking them off one by one. Then the dead teenagers start to rise again-as something other than vamps. Who knew that zombies actually existed?

Now Moth has to infiltrate the Otherkin without them figuring out that she's the Real Deal, find out who or what is transforming them into the walking dead, all while keeping resident vampire hunter Jason Murdoch from shooting anything that doesn't breathe. It doesn't help that she and Jace have a history, and the sexy young hunter feels he has a lot to prove-and a score to settle…

Greylands by Isobelle Carmody (Ford Street Publishing, $19.95, 9781921665677)

After a long, long moment, the sound faded, though the air seemed still to throb with the awful anguish of it. ‘What was that?’ he whispered.

One wakeful night in the aftermath of his mother’s death, Jack enters a land devoid of colour or scent. Here he meets the tragic laughing beast and Alice, a strange girl with a secret.

Will Jack escape before the terrifying wolvers find him? Or is he destined to be trapped in the Greylands forever?

Only the cats know …

A haunting fable from the acclaimed author of The Gathering and Green Monkey Dreams

Every Day by David Levithan (Text Publishing, $19.99, 9781921922954)

Every morning, A wakes in a different person’s body, a different person’s life. There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

And then A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

Can you love someone who is destined to change each day? YA superstar author David Levithan brings all his trademark insight to a novel that is edgy, romantic and page-turning. Every Day has a touch of the paranormal and a grounding in the real world.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Review: Word Hunters - The Curious Dictionary

‘While stories build from words, it’s true,
The words themselves have stories too.
Who dares to read? Who dares to look?
Who dares to hunt within this book?'

When twins Lexi and Al discover a strange old dictionary at the school library, they have to put aside their differences and work together for a change as they are drawn into the pages and find themselves travelling through time, hunting the origins of words.

Can Lexi and Al stay safe as they journey through history, finding clues in medieval forests, battlefields, a 19th century whaling ship and even the Empire of the Hittites in 1180BC? When they finally return home, will they be brave enough to open the pages of Walker & Fuller’s Curious Dictionary of English again and risk another dangerous and confusing journey through time?

Review: Peggy

Peggy is the story of a brave chicken on a big adventure.

Peggy lives on a quiet street. One blustery day the wind picks Peggy up and deposits her in the busy, bustling city. The city is full of exciting new things to see and experience, but Peggy wonders how she will ever find her way home again.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Event: Keynote Address and Meet the Author: Gabrielle Lord

With the Boundless Festival of Australian Children's Literature only a fortnight away, the ACT Writers Centre has an exciting announcement, and a few festival events up their sleeve.

To start with, the Centre is hosting the Festival's keynote address on Wednesday 3 October, from 6pm. Author for all-ages, the wonderful Gabrielle Lord, will be giving this address.

It gets better: acclaimed Young Adult Author Jack Heath is providing the introduction. 

Two incredible writers in the Gorman House Bogong Theatre, at the same time, with book selling and book signing, and tickets are only $5 for Writers Centre members and $10 for non-members. All ages are welcome to attend. 

To book a ticket, simply call: 02-6262 9191.

Review: Toilet Tales!

Parents struggling with potty training, don't fret a moment longer. The perfect toileting accompaniment has arrived in these gorgeous board books from Ice Water Press.

Featuring sturdy (practically wipeable!) covers and board pages, perfect for your toddler's determined grip, these adorable books follow the trials of a wee little queen and wee little captain as they learn how to progress from potty to loo.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

ebook Review: Will Solvit series

Will Solvit is just like any other 10-year-old boy, as long as all the other 10-year old boys have access to time machines. When Will's parents take him with them to visit the time of the dinosaurs, he thinks it is a great adventure until disaster strikes. Will ends up back at home with a broken time machine, a hungry baby T-Rex and no way to contact his parents who are stranded back with the dinosaurs.

Can Will fix the time machine, rescue his parents and find out who is sending him the series of secret messages to decode?

Review: The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf (The Tribe #1)

In the future, the world is a different place than what we know now thanks to a catastrophic disaster known as The Reckoning. Society is now governed by a series of Accords to maintain The Balance, ensuring the mankind will never again face such a disaster.

Despite the aim to protect all people, the Accords do not recognise the rights of Illegals, those who now possess unusual powers and abilities. Ashala Wolf, a Sleepwalker whose dreams have power, is the leader the Tribe, a runaway group of Illegals hiding in the Firstwood. The Tribe consists of children and teenagers who believe they too deserve the protection of the Accords.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

12 Curly Questions with author Hazel Edwards

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
That I never want to be asked ‘What is the question you would least like me to ask you AND what is your answer?’

2. What is your nickname?

3. What is your greatest fear?
Losing the imaginative bit of my brain.

4. Describe your writing style in ten words.
Deceptively simple. Quirky. Satirical or funny. Format-challenged. Varied. Performable.

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.
Persistent but not patient. Readaholic. Word conscious.

6. What book character would you be, and why?
The rooftop hippo who eats cake and has all the answers.

7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why?
2001. I was stuck in the polar ice of Antarctica with 34 blokes. Because it was such a cool source of writing experiences.

8. What would your ten-year-old self say to you now?
Keep trying new experiences, like belly dancing or new ways of telling stories.

9. Who is your greatest influence?
Biographies of people who have solved problems for others.

10. What/who made you start writing?
My grandma taught me to read and my father encouraged me to write, but ‘live’ first so you have something to write about.

11. What is your favourite word and why?
Serendipity: the happy coincidence of two things coming together.

12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A blank page or screen, so I would be forced to create new stories or ideas.

www.hazeledwards.com has resources for kids, interviews and also an online e-book store.

If you are an author or illustrator who thinks they are BRAVE enough to answer our questions, 
OR if there is an author or illustrator you would like to hear from, LET US KNOW! 
We will see if they are up to the task. Just email: kellyATkids-bookreviewDOTcom

Monday, 24 September 2012

Event: One Word One Day Art Auction

Banner Shaun Tan - Photographer: Emily Wiech

Sean Tan, Alison Lester and a host of other well known artists have produced a stunning and beautiful collection of original art that will be auctioned on 25 September ABC Studios, Ultimo.

The works, which can be viewed on the ASA website, are available for sale to the general public and bids can be made prior to the event or on the night.

'One Word, One Day' is an initiative run by the Australian Society of Authors in conjunction with Micador, the ABC and aims to raise funds for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. Throughout the year over 100 of Australia’s leading artists, cartoonists and illustrators gathered in each state to create works of art in response to a word they were given on the day.

See ABC TV news coverage on One Word, One Day event recently in Sydney and listen to an interview conducted by ABC Radio Darwin.

Review: White Ninja

‘There is only one White Warrior born every century. They are the most venerated and hunted human on the planet.’

Roxy Ran is an ordinary 13-year-old girl, trying to find her way at home and school. Roxy’s dream is to be able to enter the school through Gate One, the entrance reserved for the A-list students like her beautiful, popular sister Elecktra. Instead she finds herself under attack from school bully Hero, who pelts Roxy and her best friend Cinnamon with spit balls and nasty comments as they arrive at school each morning.

When Cinnamon discovers an abandoned kitten, Roxy’s world is suddenly turned upside down. Defending the kitten from a vicious attack from Hero and his gang, Roxy finds herself standing up to Hero with a surprising display of martial arts skills. Roxy is turning into a ninja!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

KBR Recommends: New Middle Grade Fiction, September 2012

A sensational batch of new fiction titles has arrived. These titles would suit kids aged between 8 and 14, depending on their reading level. Warning: you may enjoy them as much as your kids!

The Terrible Thing that Happened to Barnaby Brocket by John Boyne (Doubleday, $19.95)

There's nothing unusual about the Brockets. Normal, respectable, and proud of it, they turn up their noses at anyone strange or different. But from the moment Barnaby Brocket comes into the world, it's clear he's anything but ordinary. 

To his parents' horror, Barnaby defies the laws of gravity - and floats. Desperate to please his parents, Barnaby does his best to keep both feet on the ground - but he just can't do it. 

One fateful day, the Brockets decide enough is enough. They never asked for a weird, abnormal, floating child. Barnaby has to go. Betrayed, frightened and alone, Barnaby floats into the path of a very special hot air balloon - and so begins a magical journey around the world, with a cast of extraordinary new friends. 

Time Thieves by Charlie Carter (Pan Macmillan, $12.99)

After the rip-roaring success of his Battle Boy series for younger readers, we were thrilled to set eyes on Carter's new Omega Squad series for older readers. Augustus Smyth (Battle Boy 005) is growing up. Now 13, he continues to stun. Particularly good for older boys struggling to read.

Thirteen-year-old Napoleon Augustus Smythe (Battle Boy 005) is now Battle Agent 005. Along with BA004 (a super smart boy but a real smarty pants too), BA009 (a girl with attitude and no time for a smarty pants) and super soldier TEX, he is a member of the Omega Squad, an elite team of Time Troopers sent back into history for Operation Battle Book.

Professor Perdu, their mission controller, is worried. Someone is stealing the TIME and ENERGY bundles from the Battle Books. But who is behind these attacks? And why? Omega Squad is sent on a series of Master Missions to investigate these clandestine forces who seek to use Operation Battle Book for evil ends.

The Secret of Zanzibar by Frances Watts (ABC Books, $19.99)

′So many secrets ... so many lies ...′

Time is running out, as Queen Eugenia prepares to crown herself the absolute ruler of Greater Gerander.

And so Alistair and Tibby Rose travel deep into dangerous territory on a daring mission to stop her, while Alice and Alex risk their lives by returning to the enemy stronghold they so recently fled.

They must act now to restore Zanzibar to the throne, or lose their homeland forever.

But Zanzibar has a secret. And it may cost Alistair his life ...

Ghost Club: The Haunted School by Deborah Abela (Random House, $15.95)

Kids tell scary stories all the time . . . but what if this story is REAL?

Angeline and Edgar have to go to their Senior School sleepover, but Angeline is dreading having to talk to the other kids.

The night goes wrong when a ghost appears in the old boarding school dormitory where they are camped out. Their classmates are terrified – and Principal Prim is not happy!

With the help of Ghost Club, Angeline and Edgar must find out who the ghost is so they can help her – but first they have to convince their school principal that kids can be ghost catchers too, and they have to avoid Travis the bully, who is spying on them – and causing trouble wherever they go.

Five Times Dizzy / Dancing in the Deli by Nadia Wheatley (Lothian, $16.99)

These popular and award-winning stories are now combined in one book! 

Together they tell the tale of Mareka and the Wilson kids, who live in an ordinary inner-city neighbourhood but find themselves caught up in extraordinary adventures. 

What with the professor's tricks, Yaya's magic, the Haunted House and the mysterious Munga, it sometimes seems as if Smith Street is the most exciting place in Australia.

Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead (Text Publishing, $16.99)

When Georges moves into a Brooklyn apartment building, he meets Safer, a twelve-year-old coffee-drinking loner and self-appointed spy. Georges becomes Safer’s first spy club recruit. His assignment? Tracking the mysterious Mr X, who lives in the apartment upstairs.

But as Safer becomes more demanding, Georges starts to wonder: how far is too far to go for your only friend?

Rebecca Stead’s characters are delightfully engaging, and she has woven intricate ideas into a beautiful story. Liar & Spy is an inspired, often-funny novel for middle grade kids about friendship, fears, bullying and how to deal with your worries. It will keep readers guessing until the very end.

Miss Understood by James Roy (Woolshed Press, $16.95)

Lizzie has a history of misunderstandings, but the latest one is bad enough to get her expelled from Our Lady of the Sacred Wimple College. So now she’s going to be homeschooled.

That’s right – from now on her mum will be her teacher. No friends, no playground, nothing but homework. What will Lizzie have to do to prove that she’s mature enough to be allowed back to Sacred Wimple? She’s prepared to give almost anything a go, but will it end up the same way it usually does – with her being misunderstood all over again?

Miss Understood is a warm, funny and moving story by award-winning author James Roy.

Hal Junior: The Missing Case by Simon Haynes (Bowman Press, $6.99)

The Hal Junior series is written in a similar style to the adult Hal Spacejock books, except the Hal Junior titles are shorter and feature a younger protagonist. In other words, most adults will enjoy these books too!

'I've heard of food going off, but this is ridiculous!'

Space Station Oberon is expecting an important visitor, and everyone is on their best behaviour. Even Hal Junior is doing his best to stay out of trouble!

From multi-coloured smoke bombs to exploding space rations, Hal Junior proves ... trouble is what he's best at!

Review: Andy Roid and the Camp Howl Crusaders

Andy's just a regular kid with a normal, everyday life. Or is he? Why is a sinister scientist out to kidnap him? And who are his parents really? He's about to find out, but this superhuman secret will change everything!

Popular author Felice has created a modern day Six Million Dollar Man (or rather - boy) in this cool new junior fiction series. Part boy, part machine, Andy's escapades are the stuff of boyish dreams, with super-sensitive hearing, bionic legs, a laser gun finger and even a touch screen palm that can heat up and start fire - something he'll certainly be needing in Book Three.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Review: Crocodile Beat

All is quite at the river as the crocodile sleeps in the sun. Slowly each animal adds their noises into the air, ending the peaceful atmosphere. Ducks are quacking and splashing. Elephants are thumping.

The jungle beat is like listening to an orchestra. With each new note the sound builds into a crescendo, creating a rumpus of ducks, elephants, monkeys, birds, a lion, a snake and a bear all dancing and stomping. The animals make so much noise that they wake the hungry crocodile. SNAP!

Friday, 21 September 2012

Review: The Sugarbag

Max is ready to set off on a tracking adventure when his older brother Jimmy says a tiny native bee could lead them to a sweet treasure. Max’s head is filled with visions of piles of sugary treats as he and Jimmy follow the bee in search of some delicious sugarbag. Sugarbag is the European word for the honey produced by the Australian native stingless bee.

While Max excitedly follows the ‘pirate bee’ who will lead them to their treasure, Jimmy is teaching his younger brother about bush tucker and the skills needed to find a special treat to take home to their grandfather.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Review: The 26-Storey Treehouse

Like its predecessor, The 13-Storey Treehouse, this 26-storey version is a riot of kookyness and fun that is very typically the result of a Griffiths/Denton mirthful intermingling.

So, what's different about this next book on the secret homelife of this talented duo? Well, for a start, another 13 storeys have been added to their treehouse!

There's an ice-skating rink with ice-skating penguins, a dodgem car rink, a skate ramp with a rather precarious crocodile pit perched below it.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Guest Post: Bad Luck Makes Good Fiction with Michelle Heeter

KBR warmly welcomes author Michelle Heeter with this guest post on letting go of unhappiness, the horrors of prison, and her journey to becoming a published author.

When I began writing Riggs Crossing, I was just starting to swim upward from a personal and professional abyss. Four years earlier, my de facto partner Charles had been arrested and sent to prison for a serious offence. This happened just after I had been made redundant from a job that, even though it was not especially well-paid, made use of my foreign language skills.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

12 Curly Questions with author Andy Griffiths

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
I had a period of being obsessed with books about bushrangers when I was ten years old.

2. What is your nickname?
'Griff' to my old school friends. I briefly toyed with the idea of using 'Griff Griffiths' as my pen name. Luckily I decided against it.

3. What is your greatest fear?
Boring the reader.

4. Describe your writing style in ten words.
Plain, simple and really really really really really really funny.

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.
Annoying, stupid, crazy, disgusting, shocking.

6. What book character would you be, and why?
Andy Griffiths from the Just... series and the Treehouse books ... because I find it easiest to tell a story when I imagine that it's actually happening to me.

7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why?
I'd go back to 68 million BC so I could kick a Tyrannosaurus Rex's arse.

8. What would your ten-year-old self say to you now?
Don't ever forget what it's like to be ten years old!

9. Who is your greatest influence?
Cole's Funny Picture Book.

10. What/who made you start writing?
Lewis Carroll, Dr Seuss, Enid Blyton, Mad Magazine and American horror comics.

11. What is your favourite word and why?
'DOOMED' because it's both terrifying and funny at the same time.

12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
'Four colour fear: Forgotten horror comics of 1950s'.

 Andy's brand new book - The 26 Storey Treehouse - is out now! See our review this Thursday.

If you are an author or illustrator who thinks they are BRAVE enough to answer our questions, 
OR if there is an author or illustrator you would like to hear from, LET US KNOW! 
We will see if they are up to the task. Just email: kellyATkids-bookreviewDOTcom

Monday, 17 September 2012

KBR Recommends: Junior Fiction for Younger Readers

A fabulous slew of new junior fiction titles has crossed our desks of late. Here are our picks for some sensational reads for your 6 - 10 year old, depending on their reading level.

Sword Girl: The Siege Scare by Frances Watts (Allen and Unwin, $11.99)

When Sir Walter, Sir Benedict and the other knights go to nearby Roses Castle for a tournament, the enemy knights from Malice attack Flamant.

The only hope of rescue lies in getting a message to Sir Benedict, a day's ride away. But the castle is surrounded and there's no way out!

With the help of her friends, Tommy devises a daring plan. Can she save Flamant Castle before it's too late?

My Hamster is a Genius by Dave Lowe (Lothian, $12.99)

My mum had a long history of unusual punishments. And now, thanks to the sticky-taping incident she announced that she was buying me a pet. 

Meet nine year old Benjamin Jinks and his grumpy hamster, Jasper Stinkybottom. Benjamin is a very normal boy who hates maths. Stinky is a genius hamster, who likes carrots. 

Together they are an unstoppable team but can they overcome the evil scheming of Ben's maths teacher, Beardy McCreedy? 

New talent Dave Lowe's first adventure is brilliantly brought to life by illustrator Mark Chambers in this hilarious read.

Clementine Rose and the Surprise Visitor by Jacqueline Harvey (Random House, $12.95)

Clementine Rose was delivered not in the usual way, at a hospital, but in the back of a mini-van, in a basket of dinner rolls.

So begins the story of a lovely little girl who lives in Penberthy Floss in a large ramshackle house with her mother, Lady Clarissa, Digby Pertwhistle the butler and a very sweet teacup pig called Lavender.

When her scary Aunt Violet arrives unexpectedly, the household is thrown into disarray. What is it that Aunt Violet really wants and what is she carrying in her mysterious black bag?

A gorgeous new series for girls from the bestselling author of the Alice-Miranda series.

Hubert and the Magic Glasses by Candice Lemon-Scott (New Frontier, $12.95)

Sadly, the able Ants are not the best soccer team in the district - and Hubert is not the best player.

He loves soccer, but his skills are getting worse, not better.

Could magic glasses be the answer? 

Vulgar the Viking and the Great Gulp Games by Odin Redbeard (Nosy Crow, $11.99)

Every year, the village of Blubber competes against the neighbouring town of Gulp in the Viking Games, and every year, the Blubberers get thrashed. 

Convinced he can do better this time, Vulgar starts training - with comically catastrophic results - but worse is to come when he arrives at the Games to discover he and his friends have all been mistakenly entered into the goat hurdling! 

And when Vulgar's arch-enemy Gunnar turns up in the same event, the stage is set for the most ill-tempered and chaotic goat-hurdling race in Viking history.

Our Australian Girl - Alice and Nellie, Books 3 by Davina Bell and Penny Matthews (Puffin, $14.95)

It's 1918 . . . and the war has finally ended. Alice can't wait for Teddy to come home from fighting in Europe so things can go back to normal. But when Mabel gets up to mischief and a handsome stranger returns to Peppermint Grove, life becomes more complicated than ever. Can Alice fix everyone's problems -- including her own?

Follow Alice on her adventure in the third of four exciting stories about a gifted girl in a time of war.

t's 1850 and Nellie's best friend, Mary, is gravely ill. To provide Mary with the care she needs, Nellie must break a promise and go on a quest to find the Thompson family. But will they be able to help? And who will Nellie turn to when her own life is in danger?

Follow Nellie on her adventure in the third of four exciting stories about an Irish girl with a big heart, in search of the freedom to be herself.
Andy Roid and the Camp Howl Crusaders by Felice Arena (Puffin, $9.95)

Andy is starting to enjoy his new life. But is he the only one who's hiding a secret? And can the government really protect him from a single-minded bounty hunter? Andy's parents think the safest place for him is school camp. They couldn't be more wrong!

As action-packed as Ben 10 or a James Bond movie, the Andy Roid books are the next big thing in series fiction for boys.

Book Three in a six book series.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Review: Too Cold for a Tutu

Oh, Barry and Stella - such cuteness should be illegal. Let's just say it's a good thing these beautiful dolls are being made available to WIN in a comp on the Allen and Unwin website because I don't think I can bear another moment without them in my life!

Mini Goss has created two truly adorable knitted dogs in this sweet as apple pie book about two young pups out for a play in the frosty air.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Librarian's Shelf: The Lowdown on Graphic Novels

Over the last twenty years, the presence of graphic novels on library shelves and in comic stores has increased, and although the term occasionally leads to raised eyebrows, it is now a recognised genre.

A graphic novel is simply a novel-length story told in comic book format. It can also refer to a compilation of comic strips bound into a single book.

Here are a few things you should know about graphic novels:

  1. They encourage reading for fun, but are great tools for teaching visual literacy, and often offer complex stories which address social issues.
  2. They can be helpful to encourage reluctant readers, or to bridge the gap between picture books and novels with text only.
  3. Many mainstream publishers have graphic novels on their stock lists.
  4. Classic literature like Romeo and Juliet and Pride and Prejudice is being re-told in graphic format, introducing the stories to readers who may not otherwise try them.
  5. Maus, Art Spiegelman’s story of survival in Europe ravaged by World War II, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992. In 2014, The Complete Maus will be on the prescribed English curriculum for students in Victoria.
  6. Manga is a Japanese form of the graphic novel.
  7. Will Eisner is known as the “father of the graphic novel”.
  8. Graphic novels are available for various age groups. Just like other genres, some books will include mature content, so take time to look at them yourself before buying or borrowing them for your child.

Looking for more information or graphic novel recommendations? Take a look at No Flying No Tights, a graphic novel review website of long-standing, which categorises books by age and theme.

Sarah Steed is our Consultant Librarian and reviewer. A former Children's and Young Adult Librarian, she has more than 18 years' experience working in public libraries. Sarah comes from a family of readers and has shelves full to bursting with books. 

Interview: Australian Children's Laureates Alison Lester and Boori Monty Pryor

Illustrating the Kuprilya Song, Ntaria School

Something extraordinarily exciting has been happening over the past eighteen months. Australia has been introduced to the inaugural Children's Laureate-–a national ambassador program dedicated to promoting reading, writing, imagination, creativity and storytelling.

The role of the Children's Laureate for 2012 and 2013 is shared by two eminent and much-loved children's authors, Alison Lester and Boori Monty Pryor.

Bradshaw Primary Teacher/Librarian Talk on Book Making
Appointed on a biennial basis, Children's Laureates work to promote the power of reading and story in the lives of young Australians, acting as national and international ambassadors for Australian children's literature.

At the heart of our inaugural Laureates' experience has been an extensive national touring program, visiting every state and territory during their two-year term. By the end of their Laureateship they will have spent more than 100 days touring Australia and working with an estimated 10,000 children/families in over 50 locations. The Children's Laureate website and blog celebrates the success of the project with an eclectic assortment of textual and visual responses from students and teachers all over Australia, as well as commentary of the Laureates themselves.

‘Being able to read well is like having a gold pass to the world.' - Alison Lester

The Laureates make a splash wherever they go, but the outcomes of visits to children and communities in areas without the same opportunities as city kids has been most extraordinary. The regional and remote events associated with the Laureate program have established a network of communities, now actively sharing in and of Australian literary life.

So, what does Boori Monty Pryor think of all this? Let's ask him, shall we?


The Laureate has made people think about literacy and literature, because people have to work out what being a ‘Laureate' is. When you say I'm an electrician or a plumber, people can imagine what you do. When you say I am the Laureate – their initial reaction might be ‘what is that!?'.

What I love is that when you tell people, especially kids, it is something they want to know more about. All the kids I tell go online straight away. They've been studying my books but now they have something else to look up as well.

Being a Laureate is still the same as being a writer but it has its own special place, which then puts literature into a special place. It signifies that it is important. What's great is when you hear the kids telling the teacher what a Laureate is because they've gone away and learnt about it.

I suppose having an Australian ‘Children's Laureateship' program also acts like a beacon for writers. Even if I wasn't the Laureate I would still be pleased for the industry that the role had been created for writers and illustrators of children's books... It shines the light on all of us.

And Alison Lester?

Alison Lester reading Noni the Pony
at Larapinta Primary School

It has been an honour and delight to be the first Australian Children's Laureate with Boori. I have loved travelling around the country, meeting children and helping them turn their stories into books. But visiting so many schools has really brought home to me just how badly we fail some of our children.

Often I am working with kids who are well on the way to being good readers. But sometimes I meet children who are already miles behind in junior primary school. Many of them come from homes with not much hope and no books.

Imagine if these poor families had access to free quality childcare. It would give disadvantaged children the start they need. Instead of arriving at school not knowing how to hold a book they would already be reading when they got there.

During my time as Laureate, the importance of school librarians has become more and more obvious to me. Many schools, faced with teacher quotas and funding decisions choose not to have a librarian. I have even heard of schools throwing out all their books. A librarian can make the school library the vibrant centre of the school, help students learn to read and show parents and teachers ways of encouraging reading.

It should be mandatory that every school has a librarian.

Head to the Australian Children's Laureate website for more on this priceless initiative. 

Bradshaw primary teachers and librarians creating This is My Place postcards