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

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Review: Be Brave Little Penguin

From the creators of Giraffes Can’t Dance comes this story in rhyming verse, of a little penguin named Pip-Pip who is frightened of the sea. Ridiculed for his feelings of fear, he becomes sad and isolated from the other young penguins that enjoy endless frolics and games in the chilly waters.

His mum encourages him to have a go. She assures him that everyone has fears that they must try to overcome slowly. Pip-Pip’s negative ‘what ifs’ are replaced by his mum’s positive ones, and he gives it a try.

This is a stunning book full of warmth, tenderness and love between a mother and child, as together they face and solve the fears that many youngsters experience when trying new things for the first time; things that appear threatening or too hard for them.

Meet the Illustrator: Peter Carnavas

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
Light, usually colourful, simple, often with lots of white space.

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
I always need music on when I’m illustrating.  Over the years that service has been provided by my record player, ipod, radio, and sometimes myself, as my guitar is always within reach.  Playing music is a useful little time-filler when I’m stuck on something.  The rest is quite standard - pencils, pens, brushes, paints, lightbox.  And my dog sleeps in an old armchair beside me.  That helps. 

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Review: What Do Animals Do All Day?

Have you ever thought about what animals do during the day? Do they dig tunnels, hunt or cut down trees?

Readers will discover some of  the animals that do these actions in the book What Do Animals Do All Day? by Wendy Hunt.

Hunt's book describes the jobs of over 100 animals in 14 habitats like the savannah, mangroves and the North Pole.

This book gives little children a chance to explore animals in a unique way. It depicts eight animals from each habitat and what their jobs are. On the plains the prairie dog acts as a news reporter and in the deep ocean the viper fish is fly fisherman.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Review: Moon

Moon is a tender story that wraps its pages gently around the relationship between a father and son, spreading the message about the importance of our relationships with family and providing a way we can remain close, even when we are far apart. 

It is always difficult to say goodbye, especially when one of your parents must travel away for work and you don't really have an understanding of how long they will be gone for. By making the moon a central presence in this book we travel across the land and sea as Max and his Dad find a way to connect despite the distance.

12 Curly Questions with author Lisa Nicol

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
Well everyone knows I’m a kitchen dancer so that’s not going to impress anyone. But no one knows I’m a mirror dancer. That’s so embarrassing I would never tell anyone!

2. What is your nickname? 
An old friend - whose nickname is Gigi Hairplop - calls me Lady Lisa. While not as good as Gigi Hairplop, Lady Lisa at least sounds a bit royal no? Sometimes I feel royal, too. And sometimes I feel like Larry Loser. One of the pitfalls of being a writer.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Review: Laugh Your Head Off Again and Again

 Kids will love these crazy, unbelievable, zany stories as much as the previous Laugh Your Head Off, and Laugh Your Head off Again.

This third, absurdly funny collection of nine stories by children’s favourite authors, entertain with amusing, sometimes ridiculous, always inventive, side-splitting tales.

There is a wide variety of subjects and themes found here. The book opens with Andy Griffiths’ ultimate shower experience gone wrong. Gruesome but imaginative is a different take on the story of the three pigs by R. A. Spratt. John Marsden presents a Choose Your Own Adventure with Captain Cook, and Alex Ratt reveals the humiliation, digs and puns that come with having the surname Chicken.

Review: Ironheart

I must confess, I'd been waiting with anticipation for the sequel to Valentine and Jodi McAlister didn't disappoint.

The story continues in a small Australian country town where this dark fairy war is set. Pearl has multiple worries and threats to worry about but tackles them with her usual non-defeatist personality.

Her best friend has stonewalled her, a suspicious possibly fake cousin has come to town and people think Pearl's a murderer. The Unseelie fairies and their killers are after Finn, Pearl has a phobia of deep water and her feelings for Finn affect every decision she makes. Add to the mix the Seelies who hate Pearl.

What I loved most is how Pearl Linford's character arc has developed from distracted teen schoolgirl to kick ass heroine. She's strong, fearless, meets challenges head on and won't stop at anything to get what she wants.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Review: Peas and Quiet

Pip the Pea loves to cook and sing even though she can't carry a tune. Pop the Pea loves to sleep, snoring and snuffling and snorting the time away.

Although they are best of best friends, sometimes Pip and Pop do drive each other mad, and one day after Pip refuses to stop her awful singing, Pop decides to leave their pea pod home altogether. And Pip? Well Pip is not in the least bit sorry to see him go!

Pip can sing as loudly and sqwarkily as she likes, and she sets about baking up a storm, singing all the while. But eventually Pip finds there is no one to share her baking with, and that she is after all a little bit sorry that Pop has gone.

Review: Marvellous Miss May: Queen of the Circus

There’s something really special about reading a book about someone who actually lived.

Something that pulls you into the story and makes you think about how the world has changed and what it would have been like to live in the past.

And that’s exactly what Marvellous Miss May: Queen of the Circus does. 

It invites you into history and let’s you experience the life of a young circus performer through a spellbinding and fascinating tale.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Review: I Want To Be In A Scary Story

I've been loving the wave of interactive picture books that have been released over the last few years. I take such delight in leading young readers, be it visitors to the library or my own children, through a story that requires them to respond to questions from the characters, follow requests or instructions, and converse animatedly with what is the brilliantly simple combination of an inanimate illustration and their own stimulated imaginations.

While I have read many (many, many!) picture books that directly address the reader(s) and ask for verbal or physical interaction, I haven't come across one quite like I Want to be in a Scary Story. This picture books is unique in the sense that it is the narrator and the character of the story that are interacting, while the reader remains a passive, though still highly engaged, participant.

Review: Erik The Lone Wolf

Eric The Lone Wolf is the first picture book written and illustrated by Sarah Finan.

Finan has crafted a story that is captivating. It's about a young wolf cub, Eric, who is trying to test his abilities and independence but is confined by his family's rule of sticking together because mountains can be dangerous.

One day Eric sneaks away from his family so he can have fun, alone.

As a lone wolf, Eric can climb as high as he wants or ski as fast as he likes. But while skiing too fast he sees a danger sign and cannot stop in time before he falls into a crevasse.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Review: The Stick Book: Loads of Things You Can Make or Do With a Stick

A stick must be one of the best loved toys of all time. It can be anything you want it to be. A wand, a sword, a boat, a snake, the list is endless. Best of all, it’s natural and it’s free.

Every time I look at this book I want to rush outside and look for sticks to play with. I’m sure it will inspire children and adults to feel the same. 

Although the book is aimed at children 8 to 11 years, I think it’s perfect for any age group, as younger children can be assisted and encouraged by adults or older children to create wonderful, imaginative, fun treasures too. I’ve seen the fabulous stick dens my three year old grandson and his friends make at pre-school.

The book is divided into eight sections: Adventure sticks, Magic sticks, Creative sticks, Stick games, Sunny sticks, Musical sticks, Watery sticks and Woodcraft & wildlife.