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

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Review: My Secret Scrapbook Diary: Three Little Pigs

I mean, who wouldn’t want to take a peek into the secret world of the Three Little Pigs? So tempting! And we get to do just that in this delightful multimedia book.

Written diary-style and featuring pop-ups, flip-outs and a combination of illustrations, photographs and ephemera images, this beautifully-designed book is lots of fun to meander through.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Review: Greek Myths - Stories of Sun, Stone and Sea

I’ve always found the stories of ancient mythologies fascinating, especially Greek and Roman mythology. So many stories of adventure and bravery as well as lessons on the power of love, honesty and honour and the price of vanity, pride and greed.

Greek Myths: Stories of Sun, Stone and Sea shares ten stories from Greek mythology with young readers, introducing them to the gods, goddesses, heroes and troublemakers that feature in many of the tales of this ancient culture.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

12 Curly Questions with author Wendy Orr

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you. 
I love to sing.

2. What is your nickname? 
Dee, but only to my parents.

3. What is your greatest fear?
All the usual ones for my family. Apart from that, not being able to write.

4. Describe your writing style in ten words. 
Sometimes it comes in a big long curly waving excited rush and then I have to cross out all the extra words.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Review: Python

The python stirs. It's morning in the bush and the undergrowth is alive with activity. It's time for the python to leave her hiding place and bathe in the sunshine of a warm rock.

Her smooth scales glisten in the sun as she slithers into the branches of a tree. There she waits, 'smelling' the air with her forked tongue - she strikes! and misses a small bird. Possum also hides, but back on the ground, rat is not so lucky . . .

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Review: The Last Dance

'Hidden by autumn leaves, the Corroboree Frog sleeps and dreams of his last dance.'

Australia is a country filled with amazing animals, but some are struggling to survive and thrive. Author/illustrator Sally Morgan explains to young readers that from sandstone ridges to tranquil forests, from beaches to the outback, there are many Australian animals that need our help.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Australia Day Special!

It’s Australia Day and here at Kids' Book Review, we think that’s a great reason to take time to celebrate all the wonderful Australian authors who create amazing picture books and novels that entertain and educate our children.

Today, we especially want to celebrate those Australian stories that become part of us – the books that take us back to special moments in our own childhood and those stories that become part of the early steps in our own children’s reading journey.

There are Australian classics like May Gibbs’ Snugglepot and Cuddlepie and Norman Lindsay’s The Magic Pudding. I have a 1946 copy of Dorothy Wall’s Blinky Bill that belonged to my grandmother and I love that my children are the fourth generation of my family to read this particular edition of this iconic Australian story.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Review: On the Farm - Our Holiday with Uncle Kev

Uncle Kevin had a farm,
And on that farm we had a holiday,

Talented Australian author/illustrator Roland Harvey adds another title to his wonderful holiday adventure series. This time, Frankie, Penny, Henry, Mum and Dad are on their way to the country in On the Farm: Our Holiday with Uncle Kev.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Review: Not a Box

Every now and then a unique and quirky book comes along that is absolutely worthy of its hype, and Not a Box is one. Even its title is worth the New York Times Bestseller hype.

We all know less is more - yet this concept only really shines when it's done impeccably. With recycled brown paper, white and rich yellow pages - and super slick red. yellow and black line drawings, the look of this book is indeed impeccable.

It's out-of-the-box good.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Review: The Emerald Quest (Dragon Child #1)

It has been eight years since Tia was abducted by the dragons and taken to the Drakelow Mountains. She finally learns that her human mother is one of the High Witches that stole the DragonQueen’s jewels. The Witches used the power of the jewels to cast a spell over the lands of the six towns, preventing the dragons from returning to their areas. Tia is to remain captive until the jewels are returned to the DragonQueen.

Devastated by this revelation, Tia runs away, determined to find and return the jewels, and free the dragons from the spell.

Thus begins a daring and dangerous quest. But Tia knows no fear. She wants to show the dragons that she’s really a DragonChild not a witch-brat. She has courage and determination, a slingshot that never misses, and her DragonBrother Finn, who can blend into the colours and shapes of his environment, as companion.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

12 Curly Questions with author Gabrielle Wang

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you. 
I’m scared of injections.

2. What is your nickname? 
I don’t have a nickname and nobody’s ever given me one. Or maybe they have behind my back.

3. What is your greatest fear? 

Monday, 21 January 2013

Review: The Ugliest Dog in the World

A dog with a bucket on its head? That's a worry. But could any dog really be that ugly? Of course not, because beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

This paperback is a 20th anniversary edition of the original, first published in 1992, and is every bit as delightful as it ever was.

The book features a series of hilarious and utterly charming illustrations of a boxer in dress-up - in other words: the way the dog appears to everyone else, from the butcher to the neighbour to mum and grandpa.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Review: Kevin Thinks

Kevin think his mum is ridiculous for saying that he is wasting the sunshine and fresh air by staying inside. As if it would ever run out!

Kevin thinks you should always do up the top button. Why else is it there?

Kevin thinks his computer brain is awesome because he can remember lots and lots of important facts about outer space, computers and football.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Review: Diary of a Penguin-napper

3 weeks…
2 boys…
1 little penguin…
What could possibly go wrong?

11 (and a half) year old Marty thinks all his dreams have come true when he is partnered with Jessica for the class assignment and overnight science trip. He’s sure that as they spend time together, Jessica will discover that they are perfect for each other. She might even finally remember his name.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Review: Indigo Solves the Pzulze

Indigo is 10 years old. She loves acting, swimming, netball and playing the guitar. She has fun doing lots of different things with her family and friends. She loves to hear and tell stories, but she finds reading very difficult.

When she started school, Indigo noticed that the letters looked all wrong. The other kids teased her and called her dumb, leaving her out of their games. Eventually Indigo let her mother know how sad she wa. They worked together to help Indigo learn to read and discovered that her problems weren’t because she wasn’t smart, but because she has dyslexia.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Review: Lemons are Not Red

Looking for some seriously beautiful and very clever art with your toddler books? Look no further. Talented artist/author Vaccaro Seeger comes up with the goods in yet another enchanting and visual delight - something she is well known for.

No, lemons are not red. But when we open the sunny yellow page with its lemon cutout, promising a decidedly red hue, we soon see it's the apple that's red, not the lemon.

And what of the purple carrot? No no. Don't be fooled. As we turn the page and look past the carroty cutout, we see a fat purple eggplant lying in wait.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Review: Dragons Love Tacos

Did you know what dragons like parties? Did you know they also love tacos?

What can I say? If you know of a boy between two and five, I guarantee you this book will be a hit. My son, who is almost three, loves this book as do all of his friends.

In addition to being a bedtime favourite for weeks now, this book is the most requested story anytime little friends visit our house and anytime we pack books for a road trip.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

12 Curly Questions with author Claire Saxby

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
I hated my middle name until I was well into secondary school. Love it now.

2. What is your nickname?
Claire bear (not often used, and not by many).

3. What is your greatest fear?
I try not to dwell on fears.

4. Describe your writing style in ten words.
I try to write with as few words as I

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.
Brief, silly, funny, poetic, diverse.

6. What book character would you be, and why?
A time traveller.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Review: If I Could Paint the World

Remember those fabulous paint-with-water colouring books you had as a child? You would dip your brush, swipe it over the page, and a world of colour would emerge across a monochromatic landscape.

This is what the talented Sarah Massini has done in If I Could Paint the World.

What colour would you paint the world if you were the one to wield the paintbrush of nature? Would the grass be green? The sun yellow? The sky blue?

Why not pink? Why not EVERYTHING pink?

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Review: Scarygirl

Wordless books offer endless possibilities when interpreting the storyline. Each reader is offered an opportunity to give The Adventures of Scarygirl their own unique slant, for the story is not influenced by conventions or rules.

Scarygirl is dumped in an isolated area. She is found by Blister, an octopus who befriends her and becomes her protector. He pieces together a pirate suit for clothing, and attaches a hook to her right hand to complete the pirate image. He also builds her a tree-house in which to live.

There are many things from which Buster must protect Scarygirl who questions everything, and is filled with a great sense of adventure. Never-the-less, Buster is unable to protect Scarygirl from the haunting dreams that are filled with the face of the dark force, Dr Maybe. Her past is tied to this face and she longs to uncover that past and reclaim her life.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Review: Matilda's Cat

It takes Matilda all day to find something that her cat likes to do.

Firstly Matilda tries cat-like activities; playing with wool, hiding in boxes and climbing trees. Then she tries things that most little girls like; tea parties, drawing and wearing hats.

Will she ever learn what her cat likes?

Once I saw the cover with Matilda and her Cat, I was called by the book to pick it up. I couldn’t resist Matilda, dressed in a furry marmalade striped cat suit that is the spitting image of her cat.

Gravett’s illustrations are superb. They are an extra story to the text. The more the reader looks at the pictures the more they will discover.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Review: The Tightening Grip

The Tightening Grip is a mystery/crime novel created by ten student writers of St Laurence’s College Brisbane, in collaboration with Anita Heiss for the National Year of Reading 2012.

Policeman Michael Papadakos is brutally murdered after intervening in a fight between two drunks. The man is charged but his policewoman wife Maria and son Nicholas are swallowed by grief and loss.

Soon after, a series of murders begin occurring, always in public places surrounded by crowds and noisy distractions, and during the day. There appears to be no motive for the deaths. But there are two links between the crimes - all have been strangled to death, and all but one have heterochromia - two different coloured eyes.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Review: You Are What You Eat

I'll say it again: I love Serge Bloch.

Now that that's out of the way, let me tell you about yet another of his truly divine books - yet another one of those picture books 'you wish you had written'.

In You Are What You Eat - and other mealtime hazards, we follow a wee boy through a gastronomique journey, as he explores a catalogue of classic foodie sayings we all know and love so well.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

ebook Review: King Laurin and His Rose Garden

The Dolomites are a mountain range in northern Italy. One of the famous chains of the range is the Rosengarten or 'rose garden' which glows pink at sunset due to the presence of the mineral dolomite. The name refers to the legend of King Laurin and his Rose Garden a traditional story used to explain the pink hue of the mountain range. You might be familiar with this legend but I wasn’t until I came across this storybook app.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

12 Curly Questions with author Mark Sommerset

The following answers are by Mark. Rowan asserts that she had nothing to do with these responses. 

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
In my alone time I often entertain myself by singing wildly inappropriate lyrics to popular songs.

2. What is your nickname?
Smithee (or Herman - depending on the state of my hair).

3. What is your greatest fear?
Life without freedom of choice.

4. Describe your writing style in ten words.
Less is more, more or less.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Review Classic: Sam's Bush Journey

Esteemed indigenous author Sally Morgan has teamed with Ezekiel Kwaymullina to release Sam’s Bush Journey – the story of young Sam, whose bush walks with his Nanna are always scratchy, prickly, itchy and headache-inducing.

Nanna nonetheless patiently encourages her grandson to appreciate the beauty and abundance of the bush and when Sam suddenly finds himself alone in the bush, the words of his Nanna quickly remind him there’s plenty of delicious food, much shelter and fresh water to be found – elements that have allowed his ancestors to survive on the land for many thousands of years.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Review: Unbored - The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun

This is a terrific book full of activities, ideas, information and instructions on how to teach kids to be imaginative and independent in their choice of ideas. It also shows kids how to encourage parents to do things with them. Although the book is of American origin, the ideas, suggestions etc. are easily adjusted to any environment and applied to anything anywhere.

There is so much in this book. It appears to be as indispensible and invaluable as William J. Bennett’s The Book of Virtues which, with its marvellous collection of readings that support and enhance an ethical approach to life.

This book also supports an ethical, inspiring and self sustaining way of life. Its contents are filled with subtle psychology and incredible life skills. It enables the renewal of the imagination and encourages activities far away from the electronic gadgets that fill today’s life. How long has it been since you or your child learnt to recite a clapping game, or used what you have to make what you want? This is an excursion into creativity; a journey into new and exciting things.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Review: Princess and Fairy - Enchanting Carnival

The Carnival is coming! Princess and Fairy can’t wait to see all the amazing action in the Big Top, but first they must gather everything on their list of enchanted items.

Starting their Carnival adventure in Curious Treat Street, they make their way to Wild Woolly Acres collecting items along the way. They finally reach the big top and deliver their found treasures to the Carnival King in time to join in all the fun of the Enchanting Carnival celebrations.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Review Classic: CookieBot! A Harry and Horsie Adventure'

Before I say anything at all please just take a moment to look at this cover. Go on. I will wait.

Isn't it brilliant?

Stunning 1950s style illustration that automatically invites you into this stunning world. It somehow shows its innocence on its sleeve in a way that is completely charming and aw-worthy.

Sigh. I am in love.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Review: Charlotte in London

When you read this review, I will be walking the beautiful streets of London myself, with scenes from this very book inspiring the many sites and sights I plan to visit with my kids.

Like the This is... series by M Sasek, Joan MacPhail Knight has created a truly delightful series of travel books featuring her intrepid explorer, Charlotte - a young girl from the late 19th century who writes beautiful, detailed accounts of her adventures.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Review: Boo and the Big Storm

Boo and the Big Storm is a delightful story of lost and found. Lovely little owlet Boo is swept away from her siblings by a strong wind. Boo, with her big, innocent eyes, calls out but her parents are away from the nest hunting.

We eagerly follow Boo on her journey and genuinely care for her and a safe return to the family nest. The tension builds when a strange ‘monster’, Farmer Goodman appears and takes Boo away. Where is Boo going? Thankfully we soon learn that Farmer Goodman is a caring man who looks after Boo and when the storm passes, returns Boo home.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

12 Curly Questions with author Tristan Bancks

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
I never learnt to play the recorder at school. I used to just blow and move my fingers and hope that the other students would drown out my appalling racket. We once had an individual test. It wasn’t pretty. (NB: I can actually play ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ and ‘Oh When the Saints’ in case you’re looking for someone for a wedding, party or bar mitzvah.)

2. What is your nickname?
Tristo the Bisto the Rickstickstisto