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

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Review: Killer Ute

Rosanne Hawke takes a simple setting with characters I care about and turns everything on its head. I will never look at a four-wheel drive with bull bar and nightlights in the same way again.

Everything starts out innocently enough. A scuba dive over a local shipwreck is exciting when you are 12 years old, but when Joel and his best friend Mei are exploring underwater, a shark overshadows them. This incident comes to nothing. Everyone is safe, but dark times and danger are clearly foreshadowed.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Review: Noah Dreary

Aaron Blabey's latest picture book - Noah Dreary - is as every bit 'Blabey' as you would expect. It's actually a nice feeling to anxiously await new titles from a particular author. Like the next installment of favourite a sitcom, it's so rewarding when it finally does show.

Packed with that dark Blabey kookiness and startling illustration, Noah Dreary certainly makes a good showing, making it yet another stand-out book. I mean, wouldn't you stand out if your head fell off?

12 Curly Questions with author Juliet Marillier

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
When I was one and a half I nearly drowned in a river. I remember being in the water and unable to breathe, and I remember the feeling of scratchy twigs against my cheek when I was lying on the bank after my father rescued me. I was wearing green wool bathers with bunnies on them, very 1950s! That must be my earliest memory.

2. What is your nickname?
In the bad old days (at school) my closest friends called me Jul, but I have long since trained them out of it. Certain members of the family call me Grandma Owl.

3. What is your greatest fear?
Being helpless/powerless. Especially if someone I love is in danger.

4. Describe your writing style in ten words.
Like oral storytelling, full of heart, crafted with love, intense!

Monday, 29 July 2013

Review: Riley and the Jumpy Kangaroo: A journey around Canberra

Our favourite little aviator, Riley, is back! This time, Riley and his friends are visiting Canberra, where they encounter a very jumpy kangaroo trying to find something she has lost. As Riley follows the kangaroo around the iconic sights of the nation’s capital, will he discover what this jumpy ‘roo is searching for?

I’ve always been a fan of KBR founder Tania McCartney’s Riley the Little Aviator series. I love the combination of photographs and illustrations, the fact that the books are so much fun to read aloud, and the way the books introduce children to different major cities around the world.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

KBR Recommends: New Middle Fiction, July 2013

The Andy Flegg Survival Guide by Mark Pardoe, Puffin, $16.99, 9780143306771

Hilarious book about a boy coping with puberty, family break-ups, friends, enemies and girls - all recorded in a journal that he has to keep if he wants the Xbox that is rightly his!

According to his tyrannical teacher (and much to his parents' horror), 11-year-old Andy Flegg is a reluctant writer. So that's how he finds himself forced to write in a journal every day until his next birthday if he wants to get the Xbox that his parents had already promised him. That's a ridiculous number of Xboxless days, but somehow this writing thing seems to grow on Andy and he soon finds himself revealing all too much!

KBR Recommends: New Junior Fiction, July 2013

The Girl Who Brought Mischief by Katrina Nannestad, ABC Books, $14.99, 9780733332005, ages 8 - 12

When Inge Maria arrives on the tiny island of Bornholm in Denmark to live with her grandmother, she′s not sure what to expect.

Her grandmother is stern, the people on the island are strange, and children are not allowed to run wild or express themselves the way they did back in Copenhagen -- especially if you are a girl.

Inge Maria tries not to feel sorry for herself, but she misses her mama. And on top of everything else, mischief seems to have a way of finding her no matter how hard she tries to be good ... but could it be that a bit of mischief is exactly what Grandmother and the people of Bornholm need?

KBR Recommends: New Picture Books, July 2013

Davey and the Duckling by Margaret Wild and Julie Vivas, Penguin, $24,99, 9780670075614, ages 3 -6

When the baby duck hatched, the first thing it saw was Davy. It fluffed its feathers – and started following Davy everywhere. Around the farmyard, under the apple trees and all the way home.

From picture-book masters Margaret Wild and Julie Vivas comes this gentle and moving story about the love between a little boy and the duckling that stays with him all of its life.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Review: Stay: The Last Dog in Antarctica

Stay is a fibreglass dog whose purpose is to collect money for Royal Guide Dogs Tasmania. Late one night, she's dognapped from her position outside a Hobart supermarket and ends up in Antarctica. A crazy idea for a novel, you might think, except that it's all true!

This is the first book in a new animal series by award-winning author Jesse Blackadder, and it's a clever blend of real-life adventure, fictional embellishment and fascinating insights into life — both animal and human — at an Antarctic research station.

12 Curly Questions with author/illustrator Adam Wallace

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you. 
My credit card details are ... hey! Hang on a minute! I'm onto you! Here's something else. Sometimes I wear my left sock on my right foot, and my right sock on my left foot. That was true, but not very interesting. So here's another thing ... this one time at band camp ... oh no, wait, that was someone else. Okay. Here we go. A good one. I have read the books of The Karate Kid 2 and The Goonies about 20 times each.

2. What is your nickname? 
Wally. Or Foxy.

3. What is your greatest fear? 
Nutella. It freaks me out.

4. Describe your writing style in ten words. 
Fun, free-flowing, an organic and natural process.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Review: Zac & Mia

A novel about two teenagers with cancer. It hardly sounds like the kind of book that would have you laughing out loud or so absorbed in the story that you’re still promising yourself ‘just one more chapter’ at 2am, but that’s exactly what happened to me when I read Zac & Mia.

My original plan was to have a quick look at the novel, perhaps read the first chapter or two, as part of preparing a guest post by author A J Betts here at Kids’ Book Review. That ‘quick look’ turned into a hectic weekend as I tried to grab reading time every chance that I got, including reading until the early hours of the morning, because I simply needed to know how the story unfolded for Zac, Mia and their families.

Blog Tour: Zac & Mia by A J Betts

Kids’ Book Review is delighted to have A J Betts, author and winner of the 2012 Text Prize, join us today as part of her Zac & Mia blog tour. Blog tour dates and giveaway details can be found at the end of this post.

If you were to give me a list of a hundred topics to write about, I wouldn’t choose cancer. I wouldn't choose it because it’s too big, too confronting, and potentially fraught with cliche and drama. And I’m a fan of neither cliche nor drama.

When I began work on Zac & Mia in February of 2009, I hadn’t chosen to write about cancer. At the time, I was toying with two separate ideas: love and isolation. Love because some female teenagers had asked me to include more romance in my novels, and isolation because I was working in a hospital and felt empathy for the patients spending weeks trapped in a room.

Somehow, love and isolation came together with a single image: a wall with a hand on either side. One knocks, the other taps. I liked the sound of it and the silences in between. I liked the way two people who were not able to meet could still find a way to connect. As I began writing the first scene, I wondered if it’s possible to fall in love with someone you can’t physically meet.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Review: Melvin the Unluckiest Monkey in the World

Poor, woeful Melvin is the unluckiest monkey in the world. Or so he thinks.

He's always out of bananas ... but then, if he's looking for them at the fishmongers, he's really not going to find any, is he? People at the park want to have a photo taken with him ... but he's sure it's because he looks silly, not because he's just awfully cute.

Then there's the visit to the doctor. He's absolutely certain something is awfully wrong with him, but of course, he's as healthy as can be--and luckier than most.

Review: Let's Paint!

How do artists paint? How do they come up with their creative ideas and inspiration? For a wee child, inspiration is as natural as the snap, crackle and pop of rice crispies, but how fascinating to channel that imaginative force into something more focused.

Into art.

In Let's Paint!, artist Alborozo has created the most charming narrative, 'chatting' with kids about how ideas appear and how artists make them into something beautiful.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Review: The Royal Guest

As the world focuses on the arrival of the newest member of the British royal family, it seems like the perfect time revisit one of my favourite books about the new prince’s great grandmother, The Royal Guest.

Times are tough and budgets are tight and the Queen is wondering whether she will be able to afford a visit to Australia. Fortunately, Mrs Jones from Padstow has a spare mattress and is more than happy for Her Majesty to bunk with her while she is in Sydney, as long as her royal guest can bring her own sleeping bag.

Review: Shhh! Don't Wake the Royal Baby!

Oh my goodness. What a hullabaloo. And I don't mean The Great Kate Wait the world has experienced this month, in anticipation of a new royal tot, and the subsequent media frenzy at the arrival of their beautiful son on 22 July.

This brouhaha is coming from the Royal Palace, from a cot in the royal nursery, from the throat of a royal baby--waaah! waaaaah!--proving once and for all that sleep deprivation affects us all, blue blood or no!

The Duke and Duchess are beside themselves. The Duchess tries rocking but as soon as she puts baby down again--waaah! waaaah! The Duke tries a helicopter ride (us mere mortals use the car) but no joy--waaah! waaaah!

Review: A Royal Fairytale

Way back, in April 2011, I was contacted by the lovely Jo Rivard of Ink Robin, a company specialising in fabulous ebooks for kids. They had just released their first picture book for iPad, entitled Will and Kate (see our review here).

I absolutely loved this ebook, and Ink Robin have gone on to produce several sensational follow-up stories, including Leonard (review), Piccadilly's Circus (review) and The Hippo, The Rhino, The Elephant and Me (review).

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Book List: Wordless Picture Books

No words needed. (Except: must-read.)

Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle, $22.95, Chronicle Books, 9781452110066

Where is the Cake? by TT Khing, Abrams, $17.95, 9780810917989

12 Curly Questions with author Catherine Jinks

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
I think picking your nose is a perfectly acceptable thing to do, as long as you do it in private, preferably with a tissue handy.

2. Do you have a nickname and can you tell us what it is?
I've always been too boring for a nickname, though my mother used to call me Kitty-Kat.

3. What is your greatest fear?
Identifying my greatest fear is like trying to identify my favourite book — there are just too many to choose from!

4. Describe your writing style in ten words. 
My style is all about rhythm, sound, pace and flow.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Review: Monet's Garden - A Book for Kids

Claude Monet is arguably one of the world’s most famous artists, with artworks that hold appeal for art lovers across the generations.

Monet’s Garden – A Book for Kids introduces the work of Claude Monet to children, sharing information about the artist’s life, inspirations, art, family and career. 

I confess the book had my attention from the very first page with the gorgeous endpapers showing a photograph of Claude Monet’s house and garden in Giverny, France. The book is also liberally illustrated with reproductions of Monet’s work in addition to photographs and other illustrations relating to his life.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Review: Life, Death and Detention

Handle with caution is my first response to George Ivanoff’s collection of short stories in Life death & detention. Although originally published in 1999, these tales still hit hot spots for today’s teenagers. Originally popular as in-classroom material for Year seven and eight students, I believe young adults of all ages will find these stories topical.
What happens when a bully pushes you too far? How do you come to terms with your first kiss, especially if it is with someone of an unexpected gender? Are all heroes altruistic or is that act of kindness just a self-talking excuse to do what you want?  Charisma only ever goes skin deep, while grief slices through to the bone. Even the question of whether supernatural beings exist (and in what form) is explored.

Review: Blueskin the Cat

Blueskin the bushranger has been caught and hanged. His immediate reincarnation as a cat leaves him wanting to extract revenge from the two brothers, John and Anthony, who were the instruments of his death, but things don’t go the way he plans. Every opportunity that presents itself for his revenge turns into a life-saving act instead. Anthony in particular sees him as a good omen, because Blueskin’s actions during his elopement with his beloved, Matilda, facilitated their escape.

John, Anthony, Matilda, and Blueskin, who has now become Matilda’s pet, set sail for America. Seasickness, and adapting to his new body and eating habits push thoughts of revenge aside temporarily for Blueskin.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Review: Love (The Invisible Tree)

There is one thing that I need most! I need it more than tea and toast!

This gorgeously illustrated picture book reminds children that love is a wonderful gift to both receive and give away. A gentle reminder to share and care for others as well as enjoy the affection we receive, The Invisible Tree: Love has simple rhyming text that will appeal to toddlers and young children.

12 Curly Questions with author Johanna Bell

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you?
I'm a total closet bird nerd! I have a bird book and binoculars and a knack for remembering the first time I saw a bird species. The Northern Territory is full of amazing birds and on more than one occasion I've caused traffic chaos after seeing a rare bird by the side of the road (which after chucking a u-turn and narrowly avoiding being rear ended turns out to be a plain old plover).

2. What is your nickname?
Lots of people call me Yo (the first part of my name) but my very curly hair has also inspired nicknames like Curly Girly, Afro Girl and the not so great Dunny Brush.

3. What is your greatest fear?
At the moment I’m most afraid of missing out. I have always been a pretty organized and motivated person. If I’ve wanted something, I’ve worked out a way to make it happen and chipped away until it’s become a reality.

Last year, when my first daughter was born, my world was turned on its head. All of a sudden the time I’d had for making things happen was gobbled up by being a mum – breastfeeding, washing nappies, cooking, playing, cleaning up (again!) and catching up on sleep. I really love being a mum but I’m worried that if I don’t find more time for writing I might miss all the wonderful opportunities that I know are out there.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Review: Marcy Series #2

Meet Marcy’s crew – Marcy, Bella, Toocool, Spike, Principal Parrott, Mr Wexford, Gran Ella and Stretch. They are the vibrant characters that make up the stories in the newest adventures in the Marcy series. And rest assured, there are plenty of adventures to be had.

Led by our main protagonist, Marcy, this crew not only provide entertainment, but their stories are peppered with some important messages, facts and touches of humour as well.

In Netball Challenge, Marcy and her friends take on their teachers in a netball competition to raise money for the Lost Dog’s Home and Thirteen Dolphins sees Marcy and Bella help in rescuing a dolphin stuck in the rock pool with a group of dedicated marine rescuers. In Quiz Champs, Marcy discovers what it is like to be part of a team and learns lots of interesting facts from Mr Wexford as they challenge the boys in a special quiz.

Book List: Spy Fiction Series

For teenagers after stories with intrigue and adventure, look no further than these series - some serious, some tongue-in-cheek. They’re all chock-a-block with good-guys and bad-guys, featuring everything from orphans who accidentally find themselves in the spy business, to a superhuman secret agent, and spies-in-training inside an active volcano.

Stormbreaker (Alex Rider: Book 1) by Anthony Horowitz, Walker Books, $18.99, 1844280926.

Shout Out: AFL Books for Young Children

Are you an AFL fan? Looking for a way to help your young children connect with your passion for Aussie Rules?

Penguin, under their Puffin imprint, have recently released four books, two board books and two activity books, focused on AFL teams and games.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Review: The Hikey Sprite

Ten-year-old Hanna and her family have moved from Ireland to start a new life in England. Their new house is on the outskirts of a quiet village, near the old ruins of an Abbey and surrounded by peaceful countryside. But all is not what it seems.

It's not long before Hanna encounters a strange magical creature called a Hikey Sprite who has been called back to this world to battle the evil Shuck — a monstrous, huge black dog with glowing red eyes — and its partners in crime, the two Fomorian Giants Balor and Tethra. Together, the giants and the Shuck have wreaked havoc before, causing untold death and destruction. And now they're back.

Guest Post: Story Box Library

KBR is delighted to welcome Nicole Brownlee, Founder of the exciting new Australian children's literature resource Story Box Library. Here she tells us how it all came about.

The journey towards creating Story Box Library first began last year when I was sitting in my daughter’s classroom. I was watching with interest the teacher's use of the interactive whiteboard to show a picture book being read, which the teacher had sourced from the internet. The children were engaged and the story was lovely; however, what stood out to me was that it was an American actor reading an American book. Upon further investigation it became apparent that this resource is used frequently in many classrooms around Australia, not just my daughter’s.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Shout Out: Vote for Australia's Favourite Bookshop!

Bookshops are wonderful places! Not only do they promote a love of reading but they are also an important part of any community.

This year the Australian Booksellers Association (ABA) would like to help celebrate just how fantastic bookshops really are. In an Australian first, booklovers all over the country will be able to vote for their favourite ABA bookshop.

Guest Post: Baby's First Library Book List

KBR is delighted to welcome back Debbie Hatswell from Story Mama with her suggestions for books that should be part of every baby's first library.

One of the joys of a new baby is getting to delve back into the world of classic picture books from your own childhood as wel as discovering new ones. There is something really special about those moments when your child starts to interact with books, whether it be reaching out to turn the pages, lift the flaps or even by giving them a good old chew!

If we were in charge of the world, every child would get to have their own little library, a collection of beautiful books to treasure, to enjoy, and to help them get the right start in life! Books make a fantastic present for a new baby, but remember when you are choosing formats, keep an eye out for board books, which are a little more durable than Paperback or Hardcover editions.

Here are our picks to help build babies first library:

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Tania's Picks: Rapido's Next Stop

If you loved 365 Penguin, you'll love this stunning book from a truly talented picture book duo. Beautifully-produced by one of my favourite publishers, Abrams, this large-format book features a tough, hard cover and firm but tactile internal pages, with lift-the-flaps so well-concealed, you wouldn't even know they're there.

What I love about this book are its full double-page spreads of artistic glory, uninterrupted by text (which can be found underneath the large, very well-concealed flaps).

Featuring thick, contrasting outlines and striking blocks of colour, this is a true eyefest of pleasure. Babies would be riveted by its pages, let alone toddlers (and, erm, adults).

12 Curly Questions with author Tim Hehir

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you. 
I don’t like sweet potato. (You didn’t say it had to be interesting.) 

2. What is your nickname? 
I don’t have one at the moment. But my first nickname in school was Hair-Bear, to rhyme with my surname, Hehir which is pronounced 'hair'. At various times in my childhood and adolescence I have also been called ‘Timmo’ or ‘Timsk’.

3. What is your greatest fear?
Being kidnapped and held for ransom by the rancid butter monster that lives at the back of my fridge. 

4. Describe your writing style in ten words. 
Old-fashioned, but with a lively touch of today tossed in. 

Monday, 15 July 2013

The Hub: KBR Short Stories

Over the past two years, Kids' Book Review has published almost 100 stories by aspiring children's authors.

We've loved reading the submissions each month and sharing the best of the best on KBR for everyone to enjoy.

Due to time limitations for our wonderful KBR team, we are putting this feature on hold for the remainder of 2015. Hopefully we'll return in 2016 with new monthly prompts.

Until then, why not read some of the stories we've already shared and maybe leave a comment to encourage the author.

Thank you to everyone who has submitted stories. We appreciate your support for Kids' Book Review and your willingness to share your wonderful creations with the world.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Review: The Day the Crayons Quit

The Day the Crayons Quit is a clever, creative and colourful exploration of, well, colour. In it, first-time author Drew Daywalt, better known as a filmmaker, makes his foray into a different form of storytelling - the world of picture books. He’s been teamed with the wonderful Oliver Jeffers, whose artwork is perfectly suited to the story.

One day when Duncan goes to do some drawing, he discovers a series of letters instead of crayons. His crayons have gone on strike - and they have some demands, or there will be no more colouring fire engines, whales and dragons.

Review: Jeremy

When he was only a few days old, a tiny pink bird with a big grey beak was brought inside by a family cat. The family cared for the little bird, who had fallen out of a nest in a palm tree near their home, and named him Jeremy.

In the following weeks, Jeremy the Kookaburra’s feathers grow and he learns to fly as he is cared for by the family. Finally, Jeremy is big enough to fly up into the palm tree to join two other young kookaburras. He is reunited with his own family.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Review: When My Name Was Keoko

Between 1935 and 1945 both North and South Korea were under Japanese control. I knew life was difficult, but I had no idea what terrible demands were made on the local people.

Linda Sue Park brings to life the reality of having your food, clothes and even household plants taken from you. How does anyone cope when their language is no longer spoken and their names are taken away?

Sun-Hee struggles to remember that she is now Keoko while her older brother does not want to conform. Although alternating chapters in the voices of younger sister and older brother can be momentarily confusing, the different perspectives each offers is gold.

Guest Post: Johanna Bell

Sometimes the story behind a picture book gives new meaning to the book itself. Too Many Cheeky Dogs by Johanna Bell and Dion Beasley is a case in point.  The product of a two-year collaboration, the book has overcome distance and disability with remarkable results. 

In this guest post, author Johanna Bell reflects on the book’s creation and the profound effect working with Dion has had on her creative outlook. 

How did you and artist Dion Beasley come to create a picture book together?

Dion is something of a local hero. If you’ve lived in the Northern Territory for more than one wet season then you know Dion Beasley and his cheeky dogs. Born profoundly deaf and with muscular dystrophy, Dion’s rise to artistic fame has captured the hearts of people from Alice Springs to Darwin.

Dion spent the first part of his life in a remote Indigenous community near the Queensland – Northern Territory border. At the age of eleven when he moved to Tennant Creek he had no Auslan (Australian sign language) and was struggling to communicate. Luckily for Dion support was on hand in the form of a most remarkable woman, Joie Boulter. She noticed that Dion liked to draw dogs and created lots of opportunities for him to do so.

Before long, drawing had become Dion’s main way of communicating with the world. As the saying goes ‘from little things big things grow’ and soon his passion had sprouted into a T-shirt label (aptly named Cheeky Dogs) and later, an exciting fine arts career with exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art and the National Gallery of Australia.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Review: The Moose is Loose!

'The Moose is loose and so is the goose!'

The opening words of this fun-filled rhyming adventure perfectly set the scene for a story of animal mayhem. Train driver Mac and signalman Bruce are transporting the animals of Kalaboo Zoo when they start to break free.

Blog Tour: Claire Chadwick - So Many Sounds

Kids' Book Review is delighted to have picture book author Claire Chadwick visit as part of the blog tour for her new picture book, So Many Sounds. Dates and links to other sites taking part in the blog tour are included at the end of this post.

From little things, big things grow – taking an idea and turning it into a story.

Over the years, I have written many MANY stories. As a child, I was always thinking of great storylines and loveable characters – I am regularly lost in my imagination. One thing that has been constant in my story writing years is where I get my ideas and inspiration from. And that is……from everywhere!

Sounds a little broad doesn’t it? But it’s true – the simplest of things from a colour to an illustration to a dream, as well as much more obvious things like experiences, places I’ve been or things my children say, can all trigger a story idea.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Review: I Love My Room

There's just something about kids' rooms that stir fond, squishy feelings of contentment and childhood magic.

As a middle child, whose bedroom ownership fell squarely between a little brother and big sister, I'll never forget the nanosecond my big sis left home - and gave me the freedom and creative license I'd waited fifteen very long years for.

I kind of went bananas.

Event: Horrible Histories Stage Show

On 5th July 2013, I took my daughter Ruby and her two best friends (all 8-years-old) to see Horrible Histories: Awful Egyptians at the Sydney Opera House.  This is an amazing two-hour show featuring some fabulous 3D technology.  It’s a fun rollick through Egyptian history with lots of funny jokes and tons of costume changes.  I was concerned that it was going to be a little bit lame in parts, but I was entertained the whole time and we all really enjoyed this show all the way through.

Unlike the TV show, which contains lots of facts and silly sketches, the live show is a full story. It’s about Professor Storey, a famous explorer and his side-kick assistant Bill who turns up at a museum to steal a statue of Ramses II. They also bump into a schoolgirl called Maisie (my daughter and her friends like her the best as she did lots of silly faces and dances).  By attempting to steal the statue they awaken the ancient Pharaoh Ramses II and they are all transported back in time where there are lots of questions and arguments about how great Egypt was (or wasn’t).

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Review: Who Am I? The Diary of Mary Talence, Sydney 1937

Have you ever read a book and thought ‘Everyone should read this book!’ Who Am I? The Diary of Mary Talence, Sydney 1937 was one of those books for me.

Mary was taken to a Bomaderry Aboriginal Children’s Home when she was only five-years-old. Now, at 10, she is living with a white family in Sydney, trying to learn how to fit in and wondering where she truly belongs.

Author Anita Heiss shares Mary’s story through diary entries over one year, from 27th January 1937 to 27th January 1938. This is an eventful year for Mary, as she moves from the Home to her new family and as she finds out about the growing movement of activists fighting for the rights of Aboriginal people.

Book List: Picture Books by Indigenous Authors

There are some amazing books written by Indigenous authors, sharing a variety of aspects of Indigenous culture and history, as well as Australian history, with young readers. The books listed below are a great starting point for introducing Australia’s rich and vibrant Indigenous culture into your home.

Fair Skin Black Fella by Renee Fogorty, Magabala Books, $16.95, 9781921248146 KBR review

NAIDOC Week 2013 - Indigenous Literacy Foundation

NAIDOC week is a national celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. Held each year during the first full week in July (the 7th – 14th July in 2013), NAIDOC week encourages all Australians to take the opportunity to recognize the contributions of Indigenous Australians in various fields.

We have reviewed many books by Indigenous authors and about Indigenous culture at Kids’ Book Review. From picture books through to middle and young adult fiction, there are many wonderful books that share various aspects of Indigenous culture and history, as well as simply showcasing the amazing creative talents of Indigenous authors and illustrators. You can find links to these reviews here.

We are also passionate supporters of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) and their aims to ‘raise literacy levels and improve the lives and opportunities of Indigenous children living in remote and isolated regions’. We believe that all children should be given the opportunity to not only develop literacy skills, but also develop a love of books and the ILF works hard to make sure that Indigenous children have access to the materials they need to foster this love of reading.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Review: Wildlife

Sixteen-year-old Sibylla expects the school wildness retreat to be painful. No gadgets, camp food, compulsory exercise and none of the comforts of home for a whole term. At least she’ll be with her best friend, so that should make things easier.

Lou is the new girl with a secret heartache she can’t bear to share with the group of strangers she finds herself surrounded by. Instead, she looks on with a dispassionate eye and wonders why Sibylla doesn’t stand up to her pushy, manipulative friend Holly.

Love, friendship, guilt, grief and growing up. Life? It’s simple: be true to yourself. The tricky part is finding out exactly who you are…

12 Curly Questions with author Fiona Wood

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
I have an envelope marked ‘dragonfly wings’ in my office.

2. What is your nickname?
I don’t really have one. I still respond to anyone within earshot saying ‘mum’, though.

3. What is your greatest fear?
I’m not telling.

4. Describe your writing style in ten words.
My goal: character-driven narrative written with concision, humour and compassion.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Review: Farmer Fisher

This superb, verbally musical and visually exciting picture book is a re-issue. Farmer Fisher was first published in 1975 after what began as a song for the author’s son was developed into a book.

It begins with a farmer setting off to market with a collection of farm animals plus a ton of turnips in a truck where ‘you can’t see the colour for the farmyard muck’. It is rhythmic rhyme that dances playfully on the page arm-in-arm with alliteration, assonance and clever wordplay.

Review: Where Are You, Banana?

Where Are You, Banana? is a perfect portrait of the world through the eyes of a young character, Roddy.

A dog named Banana is Roddy’s constant companion. They keep each other company when Mum is busy with the twins, when it rains and in bed at night.

Banana is prone to separation anxiety, so howls when left alone. The neighbour, Mr Bray, shouts about all the noise, and Roddy finds him intimidating throughout the book.