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

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Review: Eat Your People

A funny twist on the age-old frustrated chant that every parent knows - "Eat your dinner!".

This book introduces us to a little monster called Monty, who does NOT like to eat his people at dinner time.

He whinges that they are too sour, they are too chewy, they are too wriggly and too jiggly. Plus, they keep waving at him. Yuck!

Review: A Thousand Hugs from Daddy

Anna Pignataro's book A Thousand Hugs from Daddy is a gentle, loving and heart-warming story of a relationship between a father and their child. There is no question that this father is loved dearly by the child, as the story begins with 'In your arms it's safe and snug, you always give a thousand hugs.' Then the pair of polar bears go outside and play together.

The father and child play chasing, hide and seek and climb together. At one point the weather gets nasty, the fog rolls in and the father shelters his child from the storm, keeping the child safe and warm. Upon returning home the child is snuggled into a blanket and cuddled until they go to sleep.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Review: Reena's Rainbow

Reena can’t hear, but she notices every detail in everything around her.

Brown Dog belongs to no one. He’s alone and lonely until Reena sees him in the park and they begin to play together. Reena notices he’s smart and quick. She also notices the children playing hide and seek and their happy smiles.

Reena joins in their game. She looks for and discovers children hiding beneath butterfly bushes, up trees filled with cherry blossoms, within tall grasses, and behind tree trunks.

When Reena hides, she can’t hear the children calling her.  When she comes out, she is alone until her mother finds her. Brown Dog tags along.

Review: Chirri & Chirra In the Tall Grass

The delightful identical twins Chirri and Chirra, with their oh-so cute bob-cut hair and dring-dring bicycles, are back.

This time, the pair shrink down so they can enjoy a magical adventure in the tall grass with a variety of inventive and friendly creatures. Riding their bicycles, the girls discover a whimsical world where bumblebees share honey sponge cake balls wrapped in flower petals, flower chafers make mixed-leaf juice and a lizard invites them to help create colourful candies from shards of crystal.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Guest Post: Debra Tidball on the Scared Book

This week marks the release of Debra Tidball's new picture book, The Scared Book. Here she shares a few of their first times together in public.

I take my new book out of the packaging in trembling-with-excitement hands. It's a little part of me that I am about to share with the world. But how will it behave? And how will others respond to it?

Well, I'm relieved and thrilled to say that The Scared Book has behaved very well indeed!

A friend's child was the first to be introduced to The Scared Book, and it didn't have the child screaming in terror or (even worse) yawning with boredom, much to my relief. Rather, the child was rubbing and flicking and fanning the pages in a quest to help the poor book feel better. Turns out, the book has perfect manners, and a charming propensity to entertain and delight its young reader. The book may have had its tingling spine eased by the child but my spine was tingling with pure pleasure.

12 Curly Questions with author Eliza McCann

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
I’ve watched The Sound of Music over 100 times (conservative estimate).

2. What is your nickname? 

3. What is your greatest fear?
Snotty tissues.

4. Describe your writing style in 10 words. 
Casual, conversational, intimate. Always trying to squeeze something funny in!

Monday, 28 August 2017

Winners! Owl Babies 25th Anniversary Edition

Congratulations to:

Lynette Thomas of ACT
Joseph Spagnolo of NSW
Sue Warren of QLD

You have each won a copy of Owl Babies, special 25th Anniversary Edition.

Thank you to ALL who entered.

Review: What's Up Top?

What’s Up Top? is a fun and funny story to spark imagination and get kids thinking about possibilities.

Written in simple rhyme, it starts with a picture of a ladder and a question: what’s up top?

The rest of the story is an exploration of what might be at the top of the ladder, and the ideas get sillier and sillier as the story progresses. 

A hat or a cat? A dog or a frog? Rain or a train? An invisible man or a door to Japan?

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Review: Once Upon an ABC

Stunning in every way, this intelligent and superbly designed book of verse reflects the creators’ abilities. It stands apart from all other alphabet books you may have seen.

Each letter represents a folk tale or fairytale from different parts of the world. This is an area in which Sophie Masson excels, and this gift of knowledge will encourage children to seek out and learn about the characters, their names, stories and origins.

The exceptional layout on quality paper adds to the overall beauty. Christopher Nielson’s immersion in the text produces a refined combination of colour and expression.

Review: Flying Through Clouds

Flying Through Clouds begins on the day the Sydney Harbour Bridge opens.

Fourteen-year-old Joe and his best mate Pete climb the bridge and watch Charles Kingsford Smith buzz the crowd as they cling to a flag pole.

From that moment on, Joe dreams of becoming a pilot, just like Smithy.

Few people can afford basics, like  food for their families but that doesn't perturb Joe. He's determined to find the cash to pay for flying lessons.

Even when his parents tell him to forget his aviator dreams, Joe doesn't give up. But there are obstacles Joe can't circumnavigate.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Junior Review: Pippa's Island: The Beach Shack Cafe

The Beach Shack Café is a cool book for 8-12-year-old girls. It has a really fresh, modern feeling and is a delight to read. 

The main character Pippa has just moved to the secluded Kira Island, and started at a new school. Pippa is feeling left out and missing her old home and she is also worried that her Mum’s plan to open a bookshop café isn’t going to work out. 

That’s when Pippa’s new friends Meg, Charlie and Cici come to her aide. My favourite part about this story was the way it was presented. 

Review: Shapes of Australia

A gorgeous, colourful book, full of patterns and shapes inspired by Australia's landscape, both natural and man-made. 

From the first page you are transported into a dreamlike wonderland of colour, shape and pattern. Bronwyn Bancroft has used bold colour, intricate pattern and geometric shapes to represent aspects of Australia including, forests, oceans, cities and farms in a beautiful expression of creativity.

Review: Eric the Postie

Author and Illustrator Matt Shanks has created a most delightful and funny story about a little echidna with a really big dream.

The story Eric the Postie begins on the endpapers, showing that Eric comes from a long line of successful echidnas. The reader is drawn immediately into the story in the most enticing way, 'Eric had a dream...' now the reader is compelled to find out  what the dream is and how the determined little echidna will he fulfil it.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Review: Spot the Difference Building Site

A new fun board book from DK for all those digger loving kids out there! This great little book is filled with tools, diggers and trucks, along with some surprise additions to make the kids sit up and pay attention.

There are silly spot the differences, where a hammer head is replaced with a fish and the top of the spanner replaced with a croissant. Another one where a digger gains cute googly eyes and another is suddenly driven by a teddy bear.

Review: A Case in Any Case

It’s the end of summer. Police Chief Gordon, a toad, has temporarily left his position to enjoy life a little. But he finds ‘retirement’ boring. There’s nothing to occupy his mind and time. He’s had enough of fishing. Gordon needs a sense of purpose.

His best friend Police Chief Buffy, a female mouse is now in charge of the office. She is brave, with a strong work ethic. But she is lonely and alone at the station. She misses her friend, their philosophical discussions, and daily routines. There is no one to back her up when she hears scratching and grunting in the night.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Review: A Tiny Little Story: Zoo and A Tiny Little Story: Park

Keen to introduce your baby or toddler to the glorious world of books?

A Tiny Little Story: Zoo and A Tiny Little Story: Park are the perfect books for the littlest hands.

Completely made of fabric with lovely thick padding, the pages are soft and squishy. 

Meet the Illustrator: Adam Wallace

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less. 
Ummmm, ahhhh, look at photos try 
and cartoonise them!

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
Pencils (for drawing). Textas (for drawing over the pencil). Music (for listening to and also so the neighbours can’t hear me yell at my pictures).

Do you have a favourite artistic medium?
I use Sharpies. Always Sharpies! For paper, any old A4 that doesn’t bleed is good by me. Yep, it’s all nice and high-tech!

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Review: Two Rainbows

Two rainbows is a beautiful book showcasing a clever comparison of colours in the city and in the country. 

The pages are organised into paired double spreads. Each colour is shown as a spot of bright in an otherwise grey city scene with the alternating page celebrating the same colour in a simple monochromatic farm landscape. For example, yellow is a danger barrier in the grey city, while yellow is ducklings in a sun drenched, wheat field on the farm.

Review: Rusty, Buster and Patch versus The Opera

Here is a wacky book, sure to appeal to kids who like a bit of silly between the pages--which is most kids really!  

A trio of cheeky boys get up to all sorts of mischief, much to the dismay of their mother. One day she decides to take them to The Opera, to try to instill a little class into their characters. While they may have looked classy, their behaviour was anything but! The three boys create chaos before, during and after the show. But perhaps they have shown just enough promise to convince their mother to keep trying to bring up cultured children.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Review: Daddy and the World's Longest Poo

A young boy searches the house for his dad, but he’s nowhere to be found.

When he finally finds him, the boy discovers Dad has been hiding in the toilet and uncovers a secret about why Dad sometimes disappears for so long. 

This is a bold and cheeky picture book for those who like bathroom humour. 

With toilet talk and sometimes revealing accompanying illustrations, kids who find toilet time amusing are likely to get the giggles, and the story has been written to get a chuckle out of Mum and Dad as well.

12 Curly Questions with author Fiona Harris

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
I love horror movies, especially ones about ghosts, demons and all things paranormal.

2. What is your nickname? 
I get called Fi by most of my friends and family, but my husband calls me Fuj.

3. What is your greatest fear?
Rodents of all shapes and sizes. Ew!

Monday, 21 August 2017

Giveaway: Owl Babies 25th Anniversary Edition

Thanks to our good friends at Walker Books Australia and to Celebrate Book Week, we have five beautiful 25th Anniversary copies of Owl Babies to giveaway. This bestselling modern classic by Patrick Benson and Martin Waddell has been quoted as 'the perfect picture book'.

To win your copy, simply tell us in 25 words or less what you love most about your Mum.

Email your answer along with your name and postal address to dimity@gmail. The response we like the best will win one of five copies. Competition is open to anyone, worldwide, so long as they have an Australian postal address for delivery of the book. Please note, we cannot deliver to PO Boxes. Entries without a name and street address will be ineligible. Winners will be announced right here on our website on Monday 28 August 2017.

Competition runs from 9pm Monday 20 August to 9pm Sunday 27 August 2017. Adults can enter for those aged 17 and under. This is a game of skill, not chance. The judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

For our heartwarming review of this edition of Owl Babies, by Coral Vass visit, here.

Review: Owl Babies

First published in 1995, Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson’s gorgeous tale of three baby owls has become a classic. A quarter of a century on, and over four and a half million copies later, Owl Babies 25th anniversary edition continues to engage young readers around the world.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Review: Ned's Circus of Marvels: The Gold Thief

This is middle grade fantasy at its best. A magical and mysterious novel that takes you on a unique and exciting adventure with a collection of original and memorable characters.

Ned is trying really hard to be a normal kid living with his parents in a normal neighbourhood. Except that he is far from normal. When a strange man turns up at school and Ned’s parents go missing, he is forced to cross the Veil into the magical world to try to find them.

Winners! Australian Animals Picture Book Pack

Congratulations to:

Kat Apel of QLD
Amie & Olivia Sabadin of NSW
Lynette Duffy of QLD

You have each won one of our Australian Animals Picture Book Packs.

Thank you to ALL who entered.We all learned an extra thing or two about our Aussie animals from your entries!

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Review: Lexicon

Lexicon opens with Will waking up in the men's toilets as a stranger inserts a needle into his eye.

I know, right?

Not your average opening for a novel. But wait, the pace just keeps hotting up from there.

As Will runs for his life, not knowing who are the good guys and who are bad, another drama plays out in another space, perhaps another time – that's for you to figure out...

Emily lives on the streets. She's a a hustler. She makes money persuading people to bet on her games of chance. But her skills are noticed. She is recruited and her world is never the same.

How are Emily and Will connected? Maybe they aren't. There's only one way to find out.

Review: The Vampire Knife (The Witching Hours)

Oh, wow! I have not read a middle fiction novel like this one before.

There’s a warning on the back of the book that says this series is only for the bravest readers, and that warning does not exaggerate.

Book one in The Witching Hours series, The Vampire Knife introduces readers to brother and sister duo Max and Anna. 

Their dad, the Professor, takes them to a deserted inn in the middle of a stormy Transylvanian forest. And when they arrive he promptly leaves them to attend to his work, putting them in the care of the creepy old innkeeper, who feeds them garlic soup and confiscates Anna’s fairy tale books.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Review: I Want To Be In A Book

I Want To Be In A Book is a delightful story about Cecil, a little creature who was created by author and illustrator, Narelle Oliver. The book's character Cecil takes readers on an imaginative, adventurous and sometimes dangerous journey to fulfil his dream of becoming part of a book.

Cecil felt that he must be a special idea of Narelle Oliver's because she had named him and he was a completed sketch unlike other characters on Narelle's drawing board. Cecil waited. He watched as other characters were created, painted, added to scenes in stories like The Very Blue Thinggmajig and then watch them vanish. Cecil knew that the magic would happen, that the characters would reappear in a brand new book.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Review: New Worlds (The Secret World Of Curly Jones)

Curly Jones doesn’t have any friends, he’s picked on at school, and he generally keeps to himself. But everything changes when Belle moves next door.

Belle is cool and bold, and she wants to be Curly’s friend. But Belle also has a secret, and when she shares it with Curly, his whole world changes.

You see, Belle has a very cool treehouse in her backyard. And in that treehouse is a magical mirror. And that magical mirror is a gateway to another world: the Secret World. 

Review: Winnie-the-Pooh: The Great Heffalump Hunt

Based on the works of Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne and E.H. Sheppard, Giles Andreae has created a magical story in verse, with the much-loved characters Pooh and Piglet.

Best friends Pooh and Piglet are strolling through the forest. Pooh has one of his ‘Grand Ideas’. He wants to catch a Heffalump. 

Rabbit has told him that Heffalumps eat Piglets. After wondering and pondering what bait to use in their trap, Piglet suggests honey.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Review: Koala

This month, Koala climbs his way onto the bookshelves across the country, with the release of a stunning new publication by award-winning non-fiction picture book specialist, Claire Saxby, and one of Australia’s premier illustrators Julie Vivas.

It’s time for little Koala to find his own way, now he is growing older. He must leave his mother and the home he has known.

Review: The Curious Case of the Missing Mammoth

You've gotta love a picture book so completely jam-packed with fun and facts, and colour and intrigue.

It's midnight and there's a baby mammoth on the loose. Oscar has to track him down before the clock strikes one.

So begins a riotous and mysterious romp as Oscar and his new friend Timothy the mammoth chase the baby mammoth into a magical museum where all the creatures have come to life.

The baby mammoth leads the pair through the library, the aviation gallery, the dinosaur display and the extinct and endangered species section.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Review: Edgeland

Chilling, edgy, addictive. That’s how I’d describe Edgeland by US authors Jake Halpean and Peter Kujawinski.

It’s the story of a world that could be ours but isn’t. It's the story of a world with two factions, the Suns and Shadows, who are so separated in their beliefs that one faction only comes out during the day, and the other only at night.

And all their beliefs centre on the giant drain in the ocean off the island of Edgeland, where the dead are sent to wait in purgatory before entering one of two versions of heaven.

10 Quirky Questions with author Gabrielle Williams

1. What's your hidden talent?
I’ve got a black belt in karate. I use it mainly to tie up my yoga mat these days, but still. Black belt. Don’t mess with me.

2. Who is your favourite literary villain and why? 
I adore Heathcliffe from Wuthering Heights. He’s so vindictive and take-no-prisoners and crazy and bent – what’s not to love? Plus, he gets bonus points for being immortalised by such a cool chick as Kate Bush.

3. You're hosting a literary dinner party, which five authors would you invite? (alive or dead)
Margaret Atwood would be top of my pops (especially for The Handmaid’s Tale and The Blind Assassin. And Cat’s Eye. And, oh for God’s sake, her entire catalogue). Also Ann Patchett because to be able to write such a masterful book as Bel Canto, well, I need to grill her and find out how she does it.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Review: Return

Return is the third book in the trilogy of wordless picture books by Aaron Becker that started with Journey (a Caldecott Honor Book in 2014), and which was followed by Quest.

Dad is hard at work and having a hard time of it.

He becomes distracted by a red kite which is a clue to his daughter's whereabouts.

He follows her trail, passing through a red door to enter a forest beautifully lit by glowing lanterns.

Giveaway: Australian Animals

Thanks to the great people at Walker Books Australia and in celebration of Australian wildlife and Australian talent, we have three absolutely gorgeous Australian Animals Picture Book Packs, to giveaway. Each pack includes a copy of A is for Australian Animals by Frane Lessac and a copy of Koala by Claire Saxby and Julie Vivas.

To enter, simply tell us in 25 words or less a fun fact about your favourite Australian animal.

Email your answer along with your name and postal address to dimity@gmail. The response we like the best will win the pack. Competition is open to anyone, worldwide, so long as they have an Australian postal address for delivery of the book. Please note, we cannot deliver to PO Boxes. Entries without a name and street address will be ineligible. Winners will be announced right here on our website on Sunday 20 August 2017.
Competition runs from 5am Monday 14 August to 9pm Saturday 19 August 2017. Adults can enter for those aged 17 and under. This is a game of skill, not chance. The judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Review: A Perfectly Posh Pink Afternoon Tea

Six girls in beautiful pearls are having a posh pink afternoon tea, but over the fence two scheming boys are plotting a devious plan to ruin their fun.

A Perfectly Posh Pink Afternoon Tea is pure delight. It’s fun and funny, and it has the most fabulous surprise ending that will make you smile and want to shout out ‘yes!’.

Author Coral Vass is so very talented. The story flows beautifully, and the rhythm and rhyme is perfect and so easy to follow all the way through. It’s a joy to read aloud, and it’s the kind of picture book you finish and immediately want to read again.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

August Young Adult New Releases

This month, we present some amazing new YA books, mostly from Australian authors. There's a great cross-section as the bar continues to rise each month in YA fiction by a range of wonderful authors and publishers. Snuggle up, keep warm and enjoy some great reading.

The Undercurrent, by Paula Weston, $19.99, Text Publishing, 9781925498233, Read review here

Review: Tell It To The Moon

Amber, Maali, Rose and Sky, the four teenage girls we met in The Moonlight Dreamers, continue to retain their individuality and dreams, by supporting one another through their journey to become who they want to be.

New Year sees them reunited for a catch-up and to reinforce their hopes and dreams for their lives. They begin by sharing their fears around the moonstone.

Sky, after being home-schooled all her life by her dad, now has to adjust to being sent to a public school so her dad can work more. Amber’s desire to learn who she is, is quelled after failing to contact her surrogate mother. Maali, still searching for her soul mate, has her faith tested when her father falls seriously ill. Rose throws the biggest cracker when she comes out about liking girls. Her life becomes even more exciting when she is given the opportunity to advance her career ambitions by managing a cake stall at the market.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Review: The Ones that Disappeared

When I read Zana Fraillon's award-winning The Bone Sparrow, I thought she'd reached the pinnacle in storytelling, but then she created The Ones that Disappeared.

Three children live in darkness, tending forbidden plants. They do nothing, are nothing, know nothing except what their captives tell them.

When everything goes wrong, they dare to escape. They understand that to leave means being chased mercilessly to the death. Their captors have executed other runners in front of them as a warning. But they run anyway.

Esra and Miran, who are in their early teens, try to protect the younger Isa. Skeet is a ring-in of sorts with issues of his own. Through these four voices, the essence of child slavery is revealed, and so much more.

Winner! The Traitor and the Thief

Congratulations to:

Annette Wardrop (for Cora Butler) of Tasmania

You have won an awesome Covert Operations Group Recruitment Pack including a copy of the sensational steampunk adventure, The Traitor and the Thief by Gareth Ward, a bookmark, Spy notebook, Spy pen and a COG badge. Time to get your spy on!

Thank you to ALL who entered. We had an overwhelming number of wanna be spies send in their recruitment qualifications. Well done.
Don't forget to investigate our review of The Traitor and the Thief in the weeks to come.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Review: My First Mr Men lift-the-flap

Mr Nosey is always poking his long nose into other people’s business. That’s what he does best. Curious young children will excitedly join Mr Nosey on his outing to discover what is going on in the houses around him.

Who lives in the two houses with the small doors?  Mr Nosey hates secrets. Something is hidden behind two large cupboard doors. What could it be? Nosey simply must find out. An introduction of opposites is discreetly created here.

Meet the Illustrator: Josh Langley

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.  
Simple, quirky, folk artish.

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
I like the idea of being able to create anywhere. When I’m in the process of illustrating a new book I’ll have a little note book and sketch at restaurants and cafes. Then I’ll do bigger sketches back at home, either at my desk in the office, on the kitchen table or out under the patio under the wisteria. However the final versions are done on the computer in the office.

Do you have a favourite artistic medium?
Coloured pencils!  I use them to create the initial designs. No-one except me sees the sketches, so they can be as bad or dodgy as I like. I feel like a kid again using them, so they help me get back into that playful state.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Review: The Wayward Witch and the Feelings Monster

Sally Rippin has previously brought readers of younger junior fiction the series of Billy B Brown and Hey Jack!  

The Wayward Witch and the Feelings Monster is the first page-turning book in Sally's new series, Polly and Buster This series is perfect for the more advanced readers of junior fiction books. It encompasses themes of family, friendship, learning difficulties, loyalty, acceptance, emotions, bullying and prejudice in a sensitive, non-preachy manner. 

Review: I Just Ate My Friend

Simple, hilarious and gorgeously illustrated, I Just Ate My Friend is a fun picture book about a monster’s search for a new friend after he eats his first one.

As our yellow-speckled monster tries to find someone to like him, he soon discovers the other monsters are a little picky when it comes to friends. 

Each one comes up with an excuse as to why they can't be chums, and our poor yellow monster gets sad. 

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

12 Curly Questions with author Bren MacDibble

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you. 
I once moved to a school with only three other kids in my grade, and none of them would talk to me.

2. What is your nickname? 
Bren, Brenny, MacDibble. My grandfather used to call me Buffy, but that was pre-vampire-killer Buffy, so way less cool.

3. What is your greatest fear?Global nuclear war, or global starvation, just the big things that look likely to happen.

4. Describe your writing style in 10 words. 
Raw, immediate, voicey (is that a word?), direct, informal, explorative, lively, impulsive, (10 is a big number!), positive, hopeful. Phew!

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer. 
Eternal student, obssessive wannabe-artisan. Those are positive, right?

Review: A Castle in England

Castles are teeming with history.

In A Castle in England, Jamie Rhodes has taken the real-life history of Scotney Castle in Kent, England, and written stories that are windows into life in the castle since the 14th century.

Jamie Rhodes spent around four months living on site as a writer in residence at the National Trust property.

He researched the people who had lived there, spending time in the same rooms as they did, imagining their daily routine and experience of the changing times.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Review: The Undercurrent

Eighteen year-old Julianne de Marchi has a secret that could cost her her life. There's an electrical undercurrent that constantly hums beneath her skin and she needs to release the charge when it surges. If only she could control it.

Since the explosion at her school science lab two years ago, everyone knows who she is, not helped by the fact that her mother Angie is a renowned activist and journalist and her late father a war hero.

Jules and Angie have become socially withdrawn since the blast and live in the shadows of threats and blackmail. Jules needs to find work to support them and has no choice but to accept an interview at Paxton Federation, the agritech corporation linked to her dad's death and responsible for forcing farmers to use genetically modified grain.

The job interview is a trap and triggers a chain of events that sets this action packed story on its path.