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

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Review: The Sisters Saint-Claire and the Royal Mouse Ball

The Saint-Claire family is back and just as delightful in this latest book from Carlie Gibson and Tamsin Ainslie.

This time, the whole village has been invited to a royal mouse ball at the palace of Queen Julie S. Cheeser. But the village mice don't want to go because they feel they have nothing suitable to wear.

Enter the inventive and thrifty Sisters Saint-Claire, who come up with a brilliant plan to ensure everyone, including the queen, feels comfortable and glamorous at the ball.

Once again, Gibson's playful rhyme is frothy and light and an absolute treat to read out loud, while Ainslie's illustrations are a smorgasbord of colour and pattern for children (and adults) to pore over.

Meet the Illustrator: Chris Saunders

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.  Storytelling; using imagination, detail and atmosphere combined with exaggerated physics.

What items are an essential part of your creative space?  My most essential workspace items are my computer, drawing tablet, diary and something to sketch with.

Do you have a favourite artistic medium?  I’m fascinated with the progression of computer generated imagery and the idea of simulation eventually becoming indistinguishable from reality.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Review: Eva's Imagination

Eva flings herself down and utters the all too familiar words, 'I'm bored!' In response, Mum inspires Eva to find her imagination. And so begins an exciting adventure for Eva and her dog, Chops.

Wenda Shurety's confident text carries the reader along on this adventure. Eva makes a list of all she and Chops will need and they set off down a narrow valley, with the sun shining brightly.

The initial illustrations, by Karen Erasmus, reflect Eva's mood, but, as Eva starts to hunt for her imagination, everything changes dramatically.

Review: Time Now to Dream

The talented duo of Timothy Knapman and Helen Oxenbury have teamed up to bring us a beautiful picture book that plays on childhood imagination with all its excitement, anticipation and fears.

Alice and Jack hear a funny sound as they are playing and follow it into the forest. Jack is worried it might be a Wicked Wolf, with big bad claws. But Alice assures him that ‘everything is going to be all right.’

As they head deeper into the forest, Jack becomes more and more worried. He wants to go home and be snuggled up in his pyjamas. But Alice, older and wiser, keeps assuring him that ‘everything is going to be all right.’

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

12 Curly Questions with author Peter Vu


1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
I wanted to be a magician when I was growing up

2. What is your nickname? 
 I don't have one. Although, my friends do like to call me by my full name.

3. What is your greatest fear?
Falling off an edge. (A cliff, train tracks, etc.)

4. Describe your writing style in 10 words.
Simple and easy to read, with a touch of sparkle.

Review: 101 Weird Words (and 3 Fakes)

Do you love words? Do you love crazy, weird and cool sounding words?

If you do, you’re going to want to check out David Astle’s 101 Weird Words (and 3 Fakes).

This fun junior non-fiction book is jam-packed with 101 words that you’d be forgiven for thinking are completely made up. Words like discombobulate, ephemeral, flibbertigibbet and rambunctious.

For added fun, three of the words in the book aren’t actually real words, but guessing which ones are the fakes is tricker than you might think.

As you explore the pages, the definition of each word is explained in fun detail, along with the history and/or weird facts associated with the word and a helpful pronunciation guide. 

Monday, 10 December 2018

Review: The First Adventures of Princess Peony


The First Adventures of Princess Peony. (In which she could meet a bear. But doesn’t. But she still could.) is an energetic and fun story with a feisty main character, named Peony. That’s P.E.O.N.Y. - Princess Peony, in fact, and she is not your average princess.

The eye-catching illustrations, in black, white and vibrant pink, show us that Peony is actually an enthusiastic young girl playing in her garden, but her vivid imagination brings every scene to life.

Princess Peony is accompanied at all times by her loyal and steadfast dragon (her dog), must outwit a tricky troll (a boy), and loves to practise ‘being obeyed’ in true royal tradition, until things don’t quite work out the way she intends them too.

December Young Adult Fiction New Releases

There's still time to buy some great books for Christmas. Here's a roundup of the latest releases  in YA fiction, with something to suit everyone.


Undying by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner, Allen & Unwin, $19.99, 9781760292164

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Review: Dino-Christmas

Dinosaurs and Christmas might seem a strange mix, but they make for a fun story.

Dino-Christmas is, as you might expect, about dinosaurs at Christmas time. 

Being set in the northern hemisphere, one of the dominant features in the story is snow.

Dino-Christmas begins with the dinosaurs playing in the snow -- having Raptor races and ice skating.

Review: Ho! Ho! Ho! There's a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Christmas Cake


It’s finally here! A Christmas instalment of the affable Hippopotamus that we have enjoyed reading for 35 years.

So many childhoods have been shaped by a hippopotamus eating cake on the roof. And so many little imaginations have expanded as they imagined the exciting antics of a roof-dwelling hippopotamus.

The wonderful team of Hazel Edwards and Deborah Niland have come together again for this joyful new hippopotamus adventure that must be at the top of your Christmas buying list for all the pre-schoolers you know.

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Review: Imposters

I'm a big fan of Scott Westerfeld's Uglies quartet (Uglies, Pretties, Specials and Extras).

He's created a vivid future world which raises thought-provoking, timely and relevant issues.

So I was excited at the release, after more than ten years, of a fifth book set in the Uglies universe -- and to know that another three books will also be released (one each year for the next three years).

You don't have to have read the earlier books to enjoy the new ones.

The new story, Imposters, is set some years after the end of Extras, and is narrated by Frey.

Little is as it seems.

Frey is sixteen years old and an identical twin. However, there are few people who even know of her existence.

Giveaway: Wundersmith

The highly anticipated second instalment in the Nevermoor series is here, and thanks to the wonderful people at Hachette Australia, we have a copy of Wundersmith, by award-winning author Jessica Townsend, to give away!

Morrigan Crow has escaped her curse and foretold death and has a new home in the city of Nevermoor. She believes she’s finally found a place to belong, but things are never as they seem. A middle fiction novel to be adored by all ages, Wundersmith is filled with fantasy, adventure and magic. Read our KBR review of Nevermoor, here.