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

Monday, 30 September 2013

Review: Every Breath

Once Every Breath takes off, it’s hard to put down. When hard times hit the farm, Rachel Watts and her family are forced to leave. Hoping for better prospects, they resettle in the inner suburbs of Melbourne. James Mycroft lives two doors down from their new home.  He is both brilliant and volatile; his internet identity is Diogenes, a forensic science obsessive.

While Rachel struggles with the fallout that comes with being torn from the world she loves, Mycroft has parallel struggles of his own. Together they form late night habits that include taking food to a homeless guy, until one night they find old Dave murdered.

Review: Caroline Chisholm: The Emigrant's Friend

As someone born and educated overseas, I had no idea about Caroline Chisholm's enormous contribution to Australia's history prior to reading this book. I am now in awe of this remarkable lady — a woman of incredible spirit, courage and compassion who was directly responsible for improving the lives of literally thousands of people.

Born in England in 1808, Caroline was lucky enough to enjoy an upbringing of privilege and opportunity. But a strong sense of social justice and the importance of helping others less fortunate was also instilled in her at an early age. And it's this that shaped her future and inspired her many extraordinary achievements.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

KBR Recommends: New Middle Fiction, September 2013

The Only Game in the Galaxy by Paul Collins, Ford Street Publishing, $19.95, 9781925000061, ages 12+

In a galaxy of cutthroat companies, shadowy clans and a million agendas, spy agency RIM barely wields enough control to keep order. Maximus Black is RIM’s star cadet. But he has a problem. One of RIM’s best agents, Anneke Longshadow, knows there’s a mole in the organisation. And Maximus has a lot to hide.

KBR Recommends: New Junior Fiction, September 2013

Crocodiles are the Best Animals of All by Sean Taylor and Hannah Shaw, Frances Lincoln, $12.95, 9781847804761, ages 4–6

The much-loved tale of the crocodile who can climb better than a mountain goat, hop higher than a kangaroo, and even swing through trees better than an orang-utan has now been redesigned in consultation with a literacy specialist as part of Frances Lincoln's 'Time to Read' series, aimed at children who are gaining confidence in reading.

KBR Recommends: New Picture Books, September 2013

How to Wash a Woolly Mammoth by Michelle Robinson and Kate Hindley, Koala Books, $14.99, 9781742760773, ages 3 - 6

Does your woolly mammoth need a wash? It's not a very easy thing to do...

Find out exactly how to wash your mammoth in this hilarious instruction manual - just remember don't get any soap in its eyes or it might escape up a tree!

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Author Interview: Sophie Masson

Kids' Book Review is delighted to welcome well-known Australian author Sophie Masson to chat about her latest publishing project, new niche publishing label Christmas Press and their launch title Two Trickster Tales from Russia.

Sophie, is this your first picture book? What age group is it aimed at?
Yes--I've written many novels, but this is indeed my first picture book--very exciting! It's aimed at a wide range of children--from the very young, who will enjoy having the book read to them, to older children, who will enjoy reading it by themselves. And we hope adults will enjoy it too!

12 Curly Questions with author Jessica Powers

1. Can you tell us something hardly anyone knows about you?
When I was about 9 years old, I was petrified that I would be possessed by demons. The fear was so real, I would become gripped by dread at lunchtime because that signaled midday and the quickly approaching night time. And night, in my childhood imagination, was the Most Dangerous Time.

I coped by reading children’s and young adult books until about 2 or 3 in the morning until I was so sleepy, my imagination could no longer go into overdrive. Then I would sleep and my dad would wake me at 6:30 or 7 in the morning to start the day. So I must have been absolutely sleep-deprived for a couple of years. My parents had no idea this was going on and I have no idea why I didn’t tell them. But when people ask why I write, I tell them that books literally saved me. They kept me from falling apart in terror.

2. Do you have a nickname?
I have at least a million. My husband is very fond of giving me nicknames. The ones in vogue right now are 'Mama Llama' (which my 3-year-old calls me) and Jeefe. Next week, they will probably be something different, though certain names are brought out and recycled more than others. More normal people call me Jess or Jessie. But if you call me 'Jeefe', I will probably answer.

3. What is your greatest fear?
My greatest fear is failure. I’m pretty driven to succeed at writing, which I feel is not so much a 'chosen profession' as a 'calling'. But then after that, the answer is probably zombies. I would be absolutely terrified if I ever ran into one.

4. Can you describe your writing style for us in ten words?
A baroque style. Layered, detailed, ornate, and lush.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Shout Out: Worrying Will and Xylophone Xavier

We're almost at the end of the alphabet! The gorgeous Little Mates alphabet series from Scholastic has just released W (Worrying Will) and X (Xylophone Xavier). Filled with cute characters and a alliteration, its storylines focus on gentle messaging for kids.

Will is the most worrying wombat in the west. Join Will and his wonderful friends as they whoosh his worries away!

Xavier is a Xiphias gladius (which is an extremely tricky way of saying swordfish). Xavier loves xylophones - he has sixty!

The Little Mates series
$4.99 each 
Worrying Will (9781742837406)
Xylophone Xavier (9781742837413)


Review: Eric Vale: Off the Rails

Eric Vale (he of the Epic Fail) is back in book number 3, with another hilarious romp.

This time, Eric is in big, big trouble. Like, big trouble. It's even necessitated a visit to the Principal's Office (cue ominous music).

It all starts when Eric's friend Chewy reads a book that convinces him their substitute teacher is an alien. But this isn't the problem. The problem is that Chewy is determined to prove it.

Review: Rosie's Magic Horse

Quirky, imaginative and inspiring, this fun-filled book is simply delightful!

Rosie finds an old, discarded ice-lolly stick lying on the pavement. Fortunately, she collects ice-lolly sticks, so she puts it in her cigar box with the rest of them. The old sticks are all lying around complaining that, without their lollies, they're nothing. But the new stick isn't prepared to settle for that. He wants to be a horse!

Events: School Holiday Fun at Canberra Libraries

Board Games @ Gungahlin

After some brilliant (free!) fun for the kids these October school holidays? For those in the Canberra region, Libraries ACT has put on a whole host of magnificent events, several of which have been tied into Showcase: Second Annual Festival of Australia's Children's Literature.

Don't miss this amazing opportunity for your kids to meet and greet and have fun with a whole host of authors--including award-winners Jackie French, Morris Gleitzman, Garth Nix and Nina Rycroft--and there are some seriously fun creative workshops, too. Check out just some of the events on offer, and see here for the entire list.

Read me a story (Ages 4-8) Multiple Dates
Dickson | View map
Join us at the library for a fun half hour of stories. Every Saturday Suitable for 4 - 8 year olds.

iPad Fun and Games (Ages 2-7) 10/1/13 10:30AM - 12PM
Gungahlin | View map
This program is for children aged 2-7 only. Learn how to download games to play on the iPad and how to play with other children.

Riley and the Jumpy Kangaroo (Ages 3-7) 10/2/13 10:30AM - 11:15AM
Belconnen | View map
This program is suitable for children aged 3-7 years. Join local author Tania McCartney for a special story time.

Fine Feathered Friends: craft and story time (Ages 5-8) 10/2/13 10:30AM - 11:30AM
Tuggeranong | View map
Children participating in this program must be aged 5-8 years due to the nature of the program.

Stop. Pause. Play. (All ages) Multiple Dates
Gungahlin | View map
This program is suitable for all ages. Come in and 'play' with a range of tablet devices, e-readers and other gadgets and new technology.

Riley and the Jumpy Kangaroo (Ages 3-7) 10/2/13 2PM - 2:45PM
Woden | View map
This program is suitable for children aged 3-7 years. Join local author Tania McCartney for a special story time.

Garth Nix: A story crafter unveils his world of fantasy (Ages 11+) 10/3/13 10:30AM - 12PM
Dickson | View map
Participants in this program must be aged 11+ years due to the nature of the program. Garth Nix, popular fantasy and science fiction.

Morris Gleitzman: Meet the Author (Ages 8-12) 10/3/13 10:30AM - 12PM
Tuggeranong | View map
Children participating in this program must be aged 8-12 years due to the nature of the program.

Become a Backyard Naturalist (Ages 8-12) 10/3/13 3PM - 4PM
Wanniassa | View map
Children participating in this program must be aged 8-12 years due to the nature of the program.

Become a Backyard Naturalist (Ages 8-12) 10/4/13 10:30AM - 11:30AM
Holt | View map
Children participating in this program must be aged 8-12 years due to the nature of the program.

Dinosaurs Love Cheese with Jackie French and Nina Rycroft 10/9/13 2PM - 4PM
Civic| View map
This program is suitable for adults and young adults. Dinosaurs Love Cheese with Jackie French and Nina Rycroft.

Hunger Games Experience (Ages 12-18) 10/10/13 1PM - 4PM
Civic| View map
Participants in this program must be aged 12-18 years due to the nature of the program. Indulge your Hunger Games passion.


Thursday, 26 September 2013

Review: The Illustrated Story of Art

The Illustrated Story of Art: The Great Art Movements and the Paintings that Inspired Them explores the history of art through its many styles, starting with ancient and medieval art, and moving through Renaissance, Baroque and Neo Classicism, to the nineteenth century and later. In more contemporary times, the modern age and its expressionism, abstract and pop art are covered.

Each period is broken down further. In looking at the Renaissance, for example, readers will learn about the birth of the movement, its “flowering”, and offshoots like the High Renaissance, and the Venetian and Northern Renaissance.

Review: Amina (Through My Eyes #2)

Amina’s family has survived years of war in their homeland of Somalia. After watching the lives of others torn apart, Amina’s family finally feels the impact of the ongoing war in a heartbreakingly personal way. First, Amina’s father is arrested and then her brother is abducted by the militant group Al-Shabaab.

What can Amina do to help provide for her aging grandmother and pregnant mother when it isn’t safe for her to venture outdoors alone? She desperately wants to share a message of hope with her community through her artworks, but will she only put her family in more danger with the street art she creates?

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Review: Path of Beasts (The Keepers #3)

Goldie, Toadspit and Bonnie sneak back into Jewel, their hometown, under the cover of darkness. They’ve survived kidnappings and attempts on their lives while away, but the dangers they faced before are nothing compared to what now awaits them.

The dastardly Fugelman has taken over Jewel and rules by propaganda. No-one in Jewel knows of his alternate identity and criminal activities. However, as suspicions arise about the Fugelman’s true character, he resorts to intimidation. Anyone suspected of not supporting his reign is imprisoned.

Review: The 39-Storey Treehouse

Yes, there's more. Andy and Terry have been hammering and clamoring and creating a bigger and even better (if that's at all possible) treehouse.

Now a whopping 39 storeys high, visitors (you should be so lucky) can enjoy a mind-boggling assortment of entertainment including the Not-Very-Merry-go-Round, the active but non-erupting volcano, the anti-gravity chamber, a band of crazy penguins and of course, who could bypass the chocolate waterfall? Even if Andy and Terry have been swimming in it (seems they missed the NO SWIMMING sign).

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Review: The Promise

This is a book that I would love to give to every child. From the opening pages, I was captivated:

When I was young I lived in a city that was mean and hard and ugly … Nothing grew. Everything was broken. No one ever smiled.

The harshness of this environment is perfectly captured in illustrations that are monotone, bleak and cold. In this comfortless world, a young girl steals in order to survive. Then one day she tries to snatch the bag of an old lady, who only allows her to take it after she's made the girl promise to 'plant them'. The girl doesn't know what the old lady means, nor does she care, but she wants the bag so she promises.

12 Curly Questions with author/illustrator Stephen Michael King

1. Can you tell us something hardly anyone knows about you?
I love Vegemite toast. I prefer eating chips to lollies. My preference is for dark chocolate. There’s a reason hardly anyone knows this info. It’s because it’s not that important. Still, you can send any spare chip packets or dark chocolate to my postal address. Please don’t send Vegemite toast (it turns soggy in the post).

2. Do you have a nickname?
I did when I was at school. Everyone called me Sking. I liked it. My published name, STEPHEN MICHAEL KING, always feels too long and formal. I can’t shake it now. Any ideas?

3. What is your greatest fear?
I don’t worry about snakes, dying … the pimple on my nose or any of that kind of thing. I try not to worry. Oh yes! I worry about being trapped in a cinema and having to watch a horror movie. I don’t like feeling trapped and I don’t like horror movies.

Monday, 23 September 2013

KBR Short Story: The Lost Planet

by Kate Hansen

There was a knock on the door. Bob from Lost and Found put down his holiday brochure.

“Come in.”

“I can’t,” said a voice.

“Just turn the handle and push,” Bob snapped.

“Can’t,” the voice replied.

Bob pushed back from his desk, striding towards the door.

“I’m a busy man,” he said, pulling it open. “What have you—” 

Bob stopped. He blinked. A giant, round, brown-speckled planet filled the foyer. Bob cleared his throat.

“And you are ..?”

An enormous eye surveyed him.

“Mercury,” said the planet. “I’m lost.”

Bob wanted to say planets weren’t his department but instead he drew a long form out of his pocket. 

“Your address?” he said, sitting down.

Mercury sighed.

“Not sure. I’ve nice neighbours. One is very warm and bright.”

“That would be the Sun,” said Bob, scribbling.

“And my other neighbour’s lovely—very social. Always out.”

“Venus?” suggested Bob. “Goddess of love. Earth’s neighbour.”

“Yes! Near Earth,” said Mercury. “Amazing planet, Earth—a bit of everything. Animals, trees, oceans, people.”

“This is Earth,” said Bob.

Mercury looked around the office.

“Different to what I was expecting.”

Bob ignored him.

“How’d you get lost?”

“Well,” Mercury shuffled. “Orbiting the sun can get dull. I was daydreaming of adventure when I spotted tiny, mysterious dots off in the distance—with rings of ice and dust.”

“Hmmm,” said Bob. “Sounds like the gas planets—Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune and Uranus?”

“Yes, that’s them” cried Mercury. “So I decided to visit. Very tricky for a planet.”

Bob nodded. He hadn’t been on holidays for years.

“I said bye to my friends. Mars said I shouldn’t go but he’s such a stay-at-home. I darted through the asteroid belt, finally arriving at Jupiter. Enormous planet—20,000 times bigger than me. But grumpy. And stormy. We didn’t have much in common.”

“Explain,” Bob tapped his holiday brochure.

“Well, for one thing I have no moons. Earth has one moon. Jupiter has at least sixteen, if not more.”

“Bit showy,” Bob suggested.

“So I went on to Saturn. Amazing rings but the funny thing about Saturn is that you can’t visit—you fall right through the surface. Not a bit solid.”


“Exactly. Then I was off to Uranus and Neptune. Pluto used to be their friend, but he retired.”

Lucky Pluto, thought Bob.

“By then I wanted to go home. It was cold and dark. I could barely see the Sun. Those asteroids flung me off-course—”

“—and you ended up here. Lost and Found.”

Bob jotted some final notes and turned to his computer. He’d never had to deal with a planet before. For a long time he stared at the screen. Finally, he jumped up.

“Follow me,” he said, squeezing outside. “Today is your lucky Earth day.”

The sun was warm. Bob pointed.

“That way for 77 million kilometres. You’ll be home in no time.”

Mercury smiled gratefully but Bob had gone. He had his own adventure to book.

Kate Hansen has been many things in the working world - secondary teacher, rainforest guide and travel agent to name a few - but telling stories is her main joy. She currently has a captive audience of three small children and their friends but hopes that one day even strangers might read her books.

KBR Short Stories are a way to get your work ‘out there’—and to delight our KBR readers. Stories are set to a monthly theme and entries are due in the 25th of each month. Find out more here.

Review: Bella's Bad Hair Day

Bella's hair is looking a tad shoddy. Gone are the days when her hair was soft and flowing as her summer dress. Or as shiny as a shampoo commercial. Now, her hairy head tangle is being admired by Urrgh the caveman and his woolly mammoth, who thinks Bella's hair is quite becoming.

Getting the picture?

But how did it get this way? Could it be that Bella's parents are too busy whipping up artistic creations or banging out Beethoven on the baby grand, to be bothered combing the young lass's hair?

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Review: The Octopuppy

It’s Edgar’s birthday but he’s not happy. You see, he wanted a puppy but instead he got Jarvis. Jarvis the Octopus.

Jarvis is a drag. He can’t do anything a dog can do. He is, however, quite clever. Maybe Edgar can train him to be like a dog.

He sets to work, but Jarvis just seems to take things too far. Instead of playing dead, he dresses as a mummy. Instead of lying down, he puts himself to bed, complete with bed socks and hot water bottle. And at local dog show, he goes completely berserk, driving Edgar crazy!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Review: A Spy in the House (The Agency #1)

What would you do if you were faced with death and then given an alternative? In 1850s Victorian London, 12-year-old Mary is convicted of housebreaking and sentenced to death. But just after she is lead from the courtroom, something happens.

“My colleagues have been watching you for some time. You know one of them as the wardress at the Old Bailey, of course; another observed you in Newgate prison during the weeks before your sentencing. They were both struck by your intelligence. They were also intrigued by the fact that you pled guilty instead of insisting upon a trial. Most people charged with capital crimes insist upon their innocence, whether they are truly innocent or not. But you didn’t. Why not, Mary?”

Review: Bugs in My Hair!

I've always been a huge fan of David Shannon - his No, David! books are some of my very faves, and my kids adored them, too.

His latest book, Bugs in My Hair! is another kooky tale with Shannon's trademark wit and superb illustrations.

When mum makes a terrible, awful discovery in her son's hair, all hell breaks loose. There's a lice-a-palooza going on and the young lad is itching up a storm.

The shame! The humiliation!

Review: Omar the Strongman

Omar is new in town. Arriving with his adorable little suitcase and a whopping great moustache, he notices a sign outside the circus. Wanted: Odd Jobs Man.

Omar is the man for the job. He meets the ringmaster, the trapeze artists, the clowns, the horse rider, the man who shoots himself from a canon—and Mavis the elephant with her lucky pink bow. Omar and Mavis fast become good friends.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Review: Life After Theft

Kimberlee has been dead for over a year, but her past misdeeds keep her earth bound, while her spirit wanders aimlessly searching for someone who can see her. She has to repair the past before she can move on.

Jeff has just moved to town. On his first day at Whitestone Academy he sees Kimberlee. It takes a while for him to accept her story but her walking through a wall convinces him she’s for real, so to speak.

Kim needs Jeff to help her right the wrong she’s done. She’d stolen something before she died and believes that’s why her spirit won’t rest.  But the something turns out to be over a hundred boxes of stuff hidden in a cave on her parents’ property. Jeff’s impulse is to turn and run. But how can he escape a ghost?

Review: Munch!

Matthew Van Fleet's gorgeous, iconic books for the very young never fail to delight. It's absolutely no surprise his books have achieved sales in the millions and a regular slot on the New York Times Bestseller list.

In this latest release--Munch!--we meet the mouths of several adorable critters, including our cover star--a rather hungry crocodile. There's a goat mouth--bearded. A hyena mouth--laughing. A bunny mouth nibbling and a pelican mouth, holding a lot inside!

Review: Where's Santa? Around the World

Where's Wally? Who cares! It's nearly Christmas Eve and we're more concerned about the man in red.

You've already seen Where's Santa? but here we have Santa on a geographical journey--all the way around the world, from the Great Barrier Reef to the Great Wall of China, join Santa and his crew, including Mrs Claus, Naughty Nat, Mr Paws and Nice Nick (and more) as they do some serious globe-trotting.

Review: The Very Noisy House

At the bottom of a very tall house lived an old lady. She walked with the help of a BIG wooden stick.

So begins this chaotic and very very noisy story! Of course, the old lady's walking stick makes a loud CLOMP as she crosses her room. Which wakes up the dog that lives above her. So he starts barking … WOOF!

Which wakes up the cat that lives above him. So she begins to MEOW …

Thursday, 19 September 2013

CBCA ACT Book Display Competition for Children's Week

The Children's Book Council of Australia ACT Branch would like to invite schools in the Canberra/Queanbeyan region to enter our Children's Week competition, based on authors and illustrators of Australian children’s literature.

The competition involves taking a photograph of a display of your favourite Australian authors or illustrators that you have set up in your libraries or classrooms. To accompany this photograph you are to write approximately 50 words explaining why you chose these authors or illustrators.

Entries are open from September 13. The closing date is October 27.

The two winning schools will be given a free visit by Emma Allen, winner of the Early Childhood section of the Book of the Year Awards with her book, The Terrible Suitcase, to speak to a class of up to 30 students, and Tania McCartney, author of Riley the Jumpy Kangaroo and Eco Warriors who will speak to a year group of up to 120.

This is a great opportunity for students, teachers and librarians to listen to our local authors and participate in a question time with them.


School Name (limited to Canberra/Queanbeyan region)
Contact Name and contact details
The author or illustrator must be Australian

The photograph must be taken in a portrait view and sent as a jpeg file
Include 50 words or less explaining why you chose the author or illustrator
Entries may be sent in from September 13 ;the closing date is October 27

1. Use of colour
2. Clear labels
3. Use of students' art work
4. Originality

PLEASE NOTE the photos will be displayed on our website and the winning photos will be used in our promotional literature. If people appear in the photo, you must give us permission to use their image.

Send Entries to CBCA ACT Branch to be judged (act@cbca.org.au, contact person - Leanne Barrett.

Review: Flight of the Honey Bee

Did you know that bees can smell 'in stereo', with each antenna smelling a different direction? Or that they need to harvest nectar from over two million flowers to make enough honey to fill a jar?

These are just two of the remarkable facts that I learned from this fascinating book, part of Walker Books' Nature Storybooks series, and it's clear that the concept and structure of the book have been very well thought out.

Shout Out: Writing for Kids Course

The New South Wales Writers' Centre is running a course called Writing for Kids on Saturday, 19 October 2013.

Join children’s author Deborah Abela as she takes you through a practical, hands-on day of writing activities to hone the skills you’ll need to write for kids and engage a child audience.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Review: The Nelly Gang (The Adventures of Nelly Nolan #1)

Stephen Axelsen’s illustrations are irresistible. His comic strip tale for emerging readers (and older comic strip enthusiasts) provides story details without needing many words, just as any quality comic strip should. Axelsen’s clever use of visual details leads to a fast-moving frolic through the 1860s Australian Gold fields and beyond.

Having said that, the first double page opening offered a multitude of potential stories. Where is that lady going with a live pig under one arm and a cloth-covered basket in the other? How about the exhausted dog draped over a tree stump in the middle of the dusty thoroughfare? Will he spring to life at the sight of a cat getting a lift on horseback? Anticipation did not lead to disappointment. Close examination of the smallest comic strip pics offers subplots.

Blog Tour: Nelly Gang

Join author/illustrator Stephen Axelsen has he goes on a blog tour to celebrate the launch of his latest book, The Nelly Gang, the first book in a new comic/graphic novel series called The Adventures of Nelly Nolan.

We'll be featuring a review of The Nelly Gang later today, so make sure you check back in to find out about this great graphic novel capturing the atmosphere of the Australian goldfields. We'll also have copies of The Nelly Gang to giveaway.

You can find out more about Stephen, The Nelly Gang and the ups and downs of writing a graphic novel by following The Nelly Gang blog tour at the following websites:

Saturday September 14th  – Launch at The Story Arts Festival, Woodlands of Marburg by Megan Daley.

Monday September 16thChildren’s Books Daily: Review and book launch update, giveaway

Tuesday 17th September –  DeeScribe Writing: Review, five tips on graphic novel making

Wednesday 18th SeptemberKids' Book Review (That's us!): Review, giveaway

Thursday 19th SeptemberSheryl Gwyther’s Blog: Writing and Illustrating Graphic Novels

Friday 20th SeptemberSoup Blog: Review and Interview

Saturday 21st SeptemberBuzzWords: The Value of History, plus review

Make sure you also visit Stephen Axelsen's website for the latest news on his books and events.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Sharing Stories at Penguin Australia

Penguin Group (Australia) this month launches Sharing Stories, a special opportunity for readers of all ages to connect with authors and illustrators in conversation about
imagination, inspiration and the art of storytelling.

Penguin has asked some of Australia’s favourite authors and illustrators to create original works of art on the theme of Sharing Stories – and to document the story behind the artwork’s creation through videos, photographs and diary entries.

Readers are invited to join the artists throughout the creative journey, and to share their own experiences and thoughts about the stories created.

Sharing Stories will take place across all Penguin Australia social media platforms. A newartwork will be showcased each month, introducing another artist’s perspective on how sharing stories has shaped their life and work.

The first Sharing Stories artist is Anna Walker, one of Australia’s most celebrated illustrators and storytellers. Anna’s beautiful books - including Starting School, All
Through the Year, Today We Have No Plans and Little Cat and the Big Red Bus – are
beloved for their whimsical, charming illustrations that capture the wonder of childhood.

In October, award-winning book designer Allison Colpoys shares her story, followed by Marc Martin, creator of The Curious Explorer’s Illustrated Guide to Exotic Animals A to Z in November.

Follow along and share the visual storytelling love at:

Twitter: twitter.com/PenguinBooksAus
Instagram: instagram.com/penguinbooksaus
Pinterest: pinterest.com/penguinbooksaus
Google+: plus.google.com/+PenguinBooksAustralia
Facebook: facebook.com/PenguinBooksAustralia 
Tumblr: penguinbooksaus.tumblr.com 


Shout Out: Black Tengu: Book 8 in the Samurai Kids Series

I have long-adored Sandy Fussell's brilliant Samurai Kids series and it's thrilling to see Book Eight appear--Black Tengu. Sandy writes amazing stories, with such a fluid, evocative writer's voice.

Her characters, most especially Niya, her one-legged boy training to become a great samurai warrior, are beautifully-honed and full of depth, and her action scenes masterful. But it's the quiet, meaningful, zen-like story components that really set these books apart from other action series. I so love the 'quiet' between the words.

Rhian Nest James has continued to provide lustrous illustrations, occasionally peppered through the book, that perfectly capture the spirit of the Samurai warriors.

The Samurai Kids are finally back in Japan. But not at their ryu in the Tateyama Mountains. Instead, Sensei has taken them to the snowy lands of Ezo - the place of his birth. The place where Sensei must face his demons and right the terrible wrong that has tormented him.

Will Niya have the courage to help Sensei as he promised? Is Sensei really a black Tengu?

The eighth and final installment in a unique series about a special group of kids training in the ways of the samurai. For kids 9+ (and adults, too).

All books in the series:

12 Curly Questions with author Beth Ain

1. Can you tell us something hardly anyone knows about you?
I used to want to write country songs. (I kind of still do.)

2. Do you have a nickname?  

3. What is your greatest fear?
I don’t like heights so much but I’m more afraid of being afraid of things, so I climb pretty high anyway.

4. Can you describe your writing style for us in ten words?
I open a new document and hope for the best!

5. Can you give us five positive words that describe you as a writer?
Creative, honest, funny, observant, hopeful.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Yakanarra Book Launch at the National Library of Australia

This morning, at the National Library of Australia, Alison Lester launched two fabulous new books - A Yakanarra Day and The Yakanarra Dogs - written and illustrated by the students of Yakanarra Community School, in the West Kimberley.

The books, written in both Walmajarri and English, were created during workshops run in 2012 by ILF Ambassador and Children's Co-Laureate Alison Lester and author/publisher Jane Godwin, with sponsorship from the Association of Independent Schools of Western Australia.

(above, Jane Godwin and Alison Lester hand out book packs to the kids)

The books were translated this year into Walmajarri by two language teachers, Jessie Moora and Mary Vanbee (below, with a student), who teach at Yakanarra Community School, and who read from the books during the launch.

The Yakanarra school children were in Canberra for two days as part of their book tour, and it was so exciting to see these budding authors and illustrators peep with excitement as they opened their ILF packs and saw their books for the very first time.

The children also delighted the audience by singing a song.

Senior students from the school wrote A Yakanarra Day - Wangki Yakanarrajangka, a beautiful book which captures the countryside, river and fishing and daily life from daybreak to darktime. Junior students wrote The Yakanarra Dogs - Yakanarrajangka Kunyarrwarnti. 

Both books reflect the beautiful small community located in the foothills of the St George Ranges between the Fitzroy River and the Great Sandy Desert, in Central Kimberley, Western Australia.

NLA Director-General, Anne-Marie Schwirtlich opened proceedings, followed by Juliet Rogers, Chair of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. Helen Unwin, Principal at Yakanarra Community School, spoke (with great emotion) about the production process of the children's books, and Karen Williams, ILP Manager was also in attendance.

Published with the sponsorship of the Copyright Agency Limited Cultural Fund, the books can be purchased from the NLA online bookshop.