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

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Guest Post: Matt Cronin on Changing Lives from Tragedy: Pat Cronin Foundation

Robyn and Matt Cronin
As we are about to launch a set of three story books for primary-school-aged children, it should be an exciting time. But it is tinged with sadness when the reason for publishing the books relates to the death of our youngest son, Pat.

Born in 1996, Pat made our family of five complete. Pat’s older siblings, Emma and Lucas, doted on their baby brother despite having to share the limelight with him. As parents we could not have been happier.

Pat grew up surrounded by love with both sets of grandparents, a set of great grandparents, many uncles and aunties, and plenty of cousins. Our house was always a welcome place for friends.

Playing football, cricket, tennis, basketball was greatly enjoyed by Pat and he loved going camping with family and friends. He was also bright kid who always excelled at school. This meant Pat was just like so many other kids in so many other families across Australia, until one day he wasn’t.

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Review: I Saw Pete and Pete Saw Me

Kids live in a world that is their own. I love the world in which they live. It is real and raw and honest.

Children see things adults don’t. They call out things for what they are. They are generally unaware of society’s hang-ups, stereotypes and judgements.

This is a book that steps into a child’s world.

In I saw Pete and Pete Saw Me, a young boy says hello to a homeless man on the street. Other people walk by without saying a word, without offering a smile, but the boy says hello, and Pete draws him a bird on the pavement.

12 Curly Questions with author Penny Tangey

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.  
When I turned 18, I achieved my childhood dream of unfurling a roll of toilet paper down a very steep hill near my primary school.

2. What is your nickname?  
Some people used to call me ‘the Tang’ and my family call me ‘Pen’.

3. What is your greatest fear?  
Being afraid when I die. Too much? Let’s say heights.

Monday, 21 September 2020

Review: A Crocodile in the Family

A Crocodile in the Family is an uplifting story about family in all forms set in the Australian bush.

When a delightful family of birds stumble upon a lonesome little egg, they take it home and care for it like it’s their own. When the egg cracks and a smiling crocodile pops out, the birds are thrilled to meet their new family member, taking him in their stride and adapting to his needs.

Review: Australian Children's Illustrated Dictionary

It’s thrilling to come across a book for children of this quality and presentation.

Parents, teachers and librarians will find this reference resource the ideal first dictionary for young readers.

With every entry illustrated in stunning colour, it will improve language skills, and broaden the mind.

How to use this dictionary opens the door to a journey of learning.

Definitions, sometimes more than one, examples of how to use words in a sentence and parts of speech, are the first crucial areas addressed.

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Bookish Places: Anne Frank House

Statue of Anne Frank, Amsterdam (Photo: Sarah Steed)

The Kids' Book Review Bookish Places posts are a chance to celebrate museums, galleries and other places with a connection to children's literature and reading. The posts are compiled by KBR's Consultant Librarian, Sarah Steed, our intrepid traveller and hunter-gatherer of amazing places!

On a street in Amsterdam stands a statue of a young girl. Her name is Anne Frank and she wanted to be a writer. She would probably have been astonished that with the posthumous publication of her diary, her writing has been read by millions of people and her story known all around the world.

Not far from the statue, on Prinsengracht 263-267, is Anne Frank House (Anne Frank Huis). Its entry is at Westermarkt 20, 1016 DK Amsterdam.

This is a museum and the actual place where Anne Frank lived hidden in isolation with her sister, parents, and another family for two years during World War II. They were Jewish and went into hiding in 1942, when Anne was thirteen years old. In August 1944 they were found and deported to a concentration camp, where all but Anne’s father died.

During her two years in hiding, Anne kept a diary which was later published as The Diary of a Young Girl, and as The Diary of Anne Frank.

Saturday, 19 September 2020

Giveaway: Remy Lai Double Book Pack: Pie In the Sky and Fly On The Wall

Remy Lai studied fine arts, with a major in painting and drawing. She was born in Indonesia, grew up in Singapore, and currently lives in Brisbane, Australia, where she writes and draws stories for kids with her two dogs by her side. She is the author of the critically-acclaimed Pie in the Sky and the stunning new, Fly on the Wall. In this moving and hilarious illustrated (by Lai) novel, a twelve-year-old boy goes on a (forbidden) solo journey halfway around the world to prove his independence to his overprotective family.

Remy Lai takes readers on an adventure filled with humour, heart, and hijinks that’s a sure bet for fans of Jerry Craft, Terri Libenson, and Shannon Hale! And thanks to Walker Books Australia, we are giving away both of her graphic novels!

For the chance to win this fantastic double book prize, in 25 words or less, tell us what was your favourite childhood adventure?

Review: Ten Sleepy Sheep

Ten Sleepy Sheep is an adorable board book set on a farm in the Australian bush.

Gently counting animals who are ready for bed down from ten sheep to one snuggly, sleepy joey, this new book from Renée Treml is as sweet as they come. Each spread features a group of gorgeous, very sleepy animals to count, including puppies, foals, calves, ducklings, lizards and more.

I adore the Australian farm themed illustrations, featuring delicately drawn line art of flora and fauna with soft pastel background colours, they set a dreamy sense of open space and rich night skies. 

Friday, 18 September 2020

Review: Piper Picks the Perfect Pet

Piper’s dilemma is which pet to choose. So many types of dogs: ones that prance, others that dance, one that is flouncy or another that’s bouncy. 

Or perhaps a cat? A tabby? A Persian? A Manx or Siamese? One that sleeps all day long, or the kind that are poetry in motion.

What about other pets? Small or large? A snake or donkey, an insect or fish? 

Should she choose a pet that will impress her friends? One that will win prizes?

How does one choose the perfect pet?

Review: Challenger Deep

Caden Bosch lives a double life – seemingly a normal adolescent boy, quirky, smart and fun, living in suburbia, juggling the demands of friends, schoolwork and leisure.

Yet he is simultaneously working as the artist in residence on board a ship with the mission to explore the deepest part of the ocean, the Challenger Deep part of the Marinas trench.

Caden had no memory of volunteering for this, and is at a loss to explain how he can be in two places at once. 

But he accepts it, and the reader is taken on his two concurrent journeys.

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Guest Post: Rebecca Higgie – Part Two

Here is Part Two of Rebecca Higgie's scintillating interview about her debut novel, The History of Mischief, winner of the inaugural Fogerty Literary Prize.

To me, this book is a profound exploration of human behaviour, weakness and strengths; how sacrifice is needed to protect those we love the most. How would you describe your novel? 
What a truly lovely description. You have really captured what I wanted to explore. I started with a desire to examine how we cope with grief and loss. This grew into an exploration of how grief is a shared human experience, something monumental that is present in the everyday, and how we can do terrible things when we fear or face loss. We can also do wonderful things, casting ourselves aside in an attempt to help others with their grief, as Kay does so much with Jessie. If I was to describe the book in a nutshell, I’d say it’s a novel about grief and the many stories we tell to protect ourselves and the ones we love. 

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Review: The History of Mischief

This magnificent and imaginative novel is the Fogarty Literary Award Winner. An historical journey through time, philosophers, paper cranes, origami and secrets, it explores human weaknesses and strengths through meaningful stories that link together.

Jessie has lost her parents in a car accident. She is now in the care of her older sister Kay. They have moved into their grandmother’s vacant house as she was placed in a home long ago.

In the corner of a room, Jessie finds the carpet torn. Beneath, the girls discover a metal box built into the floor. It hides an old book, The History of Mischief.

It contains a surprising and in-depth history of mischief and mischievous acts and their progression through time.